KWAMASHU – 23 July 2009 – At 3pm this afternoon, Nandi Mandela, along with police, and a demolition team, attempted to evict three families living in the Richmond Farm transit camp. Mandela and the team broke the locks on the front door, entered, and dumped all the families’ personal belongings outside. The families were at work and school at the time. They received no notice of the eviction. A truck waited to transport them from the site.
Meanwhile, 6 other families living in shacks in nearby Siyanda Section B were told they must move to the Richmond Farm transit camp. They are to replace the 3 families, whose eviction was attempted today. These families also received no official eviction notice, which by law, must be ordered by the courts and delivered by the sheriff. The 6 families are to be forcibly removed to the transit camp to make way for a fence that will run alongside the MR577, a new freeway construction. Nandi Mandela is a representative of Linda Masinga & Associates, a consultancy firm hired by the Department of Transport.
Residents at Richmond Farm transit camp asked Nandi Mandela why her team was breaking the locks and removing the belongings of their neighbours. She said that the families were being moved to permanent houses elsewhere. But the 3 families were never told that they had to move, or that they had been allocated houses. At this time, they still do not know where those permanent houses are located, or if they even exist.
Both these attempted evictions are illegal, and therefore criminal acts. The Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act (PIE) applies to all places where people live, be they jondolos or amatins.
The Abahlali baseMjondolo branch of Siyanda Section C, currently residing in Richmond Farm transit camp, would like to state the following:
– Journalists are encouraged to come to Richmond Farm transit camp. Nandi Mandela said she and her team would return later today. They did not. While the unlawful evictions could proceed at any time, the community expects that the team will return tomorrow.
– Once again, the Department of Transport has its numbers wrong. If 3 families are moved out of the amatins, and 6 families are moved in, it means that some will be left homeless or that two families will have to occupying the same itin. After speaking to us, Nandi Mandela and her team realized they had made a mistake. One of the families, whose belongings were outside, was on a list that meant they were not supposed to be moved. Nandi Mandela apologized, and her team put the belongings back inside.
– Again, Nandi Mandela, Linda Masinga & Associates and Bheki Cele at the Department of Transport are not talking to the community. There is an elected development committee in Richmond Farm. At no time was the development committee, or Abahlali informed of these eviction plans. When members of the committee asked Nandi Mandela why she had not contacted the committee, she did not answer.
– Again, it seems the freeway is breaking apart the whole community. 52 families from Siyanda Section C came to Richmond Farm together in a landmark court case. It forced the municipality to investigate corruption on the Khalula Housing Project, and imposed a timeline for our stay in the amatins. Now, 3 families among the 52 are being told they are being moved to permanent houses, without any indication of where they will be living. It is unacceptable to move people without notice and without any indication of where they will be moved.
– We want to make clear that we will not accept any further attempts to break the locks on the amatins, and remove our personal belongings without notice or consultation. We will respond by replacing the locks, and putting our belongings back inside.
– Finally, we wish to ask, how would you feel if someone was to come and break into your home, take all your belongings while you were at work or at school, and then sat in the car with the police waiting for you to return?
“Abahlali, COHRE, and CALS have warned what could happen when people are moved to transit camps with no secure tenure. It seems that Nandi Mandela and Bheki Cele of the Department of Transport think they can move people around whenever and wherever they please without consultation with the community. It seems that they think the amatins are outside the law. This will not be accepted.
Mama Nxumalo 076 333 9386
Abahlali baseMjondolo National Office 031 269 1822
Siyanda – Digital Archive