South Africa

Durban flat dwellers spend the night on the street after eviction

Durban flat dwellers spend the night on the street after eviction

Several families were forced to sleep on the street with their belongings after they were evicted from a high-rise Durban block of flats on Tuesday.

Some of the affected tenants at Madiba House, a 16-storey building in central Durban, claim that the building has been earmarked for use as a student residence.

Tenants from 21 flats were removed from the building along with their belongings.

Affected tenant Fikile Ndlovu, who has been living at Madiba House for more than 20 years, was informed on Tuesday that she was on the list of those who were being evicted.

Ndlovu said the problem began last year when the national lockdown was first introduced.

“Because people lost their jobs due to the lockdown, many people began having problems keeping up with their bills and the rent. As a result, some were paying half or portions of their rent.”

According to Ndlovu, tenants had come up with a plan to work towards paying their outstanding rent during the lockdown, but they alleged the building's management showed no interest in what was presented to them.

Ndlovu said despite her efforts to settle her debt, which stood at about R9,000, she was shocked to learn she would be evicted.

“It brings me sadness to think of how they have treated us, considering how long we have lived here. There are pensioners residing here, some of them all alone with their belongings on the road.”

She claimed her fridge and beds were stolen during the eviction and her sewing machine was damaged.

“What pains me most is that we haven't slept, eaten or freshened up since yesterday morning.”

Ward councillor Protas Mngonyama said the conflict between the tenants and the landlord had been going on for about two years.

“The landlord came to me early last year saying that the tenants owed him too much money. I ordered a meeting between myself, the tenants and the landlord to try to find solutions moving forward, but he still went ahead and evicted the tenants.

“I made arrangements yesterday with the Durban Music School to lend us their hall to use for the night but nobody wanted to use this hall as they would have had to leave their belongings behind.”

Mngonyama said the hall was still available to tenants without shelter, while they worked to secure a tent for their belongings.

The building owner did not respond to a request for comment.

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