14 September, 2011
Warwick Chapman, DA Spokesperson on Human Settlements in eThekwini
Yesterday I visited the Lamontville Transit Facility along with Cllr Hlanganani Gumbi and Cllr Sithembiso Ngema to investigate allegations of ANC branch-level corruption.
We met with about 50 community members who stated that the hundreds of people living at the camp were either documented, meaning they have papers entitling them to a council house at some stage in the future, or undocumented and paying rent. When we enquired who they were paying rent to, community members responded that the councillors committee members were taking the rent money. Since ward committees have not yet been established since the election, we enquired whether the committee they referred to was the local ANC Branch Executive Committee. The community members confirmed this to be the case.
They said they had been visited by the ANC Councillor Mr Sandile Ndlovu yesterday to inform them that those people without documentation would be evicted to make way for recently evicted shack dwellers.
I immediately called Head: Housing, Mr Cogi Pather, who confirmed that such evictions were not driven by housing department and since they manage the facility were illegal. He did, however, indicate that eThekwini Housing were seeking legal advice on how to remove the undocumented residents.
Thereafter Cllr Ngema called and informed W/O Khawula from Lamontville SAPS of the situation and requested that SAPS members be advised accordingly and be on stand-by should any action take place.
Today just after 11:00, nearby evicted shack dwellers and residents from the nearby Community Residential Unit (Hostel), descended on the transit facility threatening the residents and telling them they were to be kicked out.
Just before twelve today, eThekwini Municipality truck NDM7010 and Vehicle NDM6998 marked “Security Management”, supported by armed personnel and moved in on the Lamontville Transit Camp.
I again confirmed with Head: eThekwini Housing that they do not have authority yet to evict anyone from that facility. Allegations that the local ANC BEC has been renting out empty rooms would suggest that the same BEC and is now using the council to evict its ‘tenants’.
All indications are that local ANC structures in Lamontville have been illegally renting units in the transit camp and are now scrambling to evict these people to make way for the intended use of this facility.
As at 12:15, we are advised that evictions have started, the locks to units are being smashed and people’s belongings removed.
We URGENTLY call on SAPS to enforce the law and require that legal documentation be presented proving the basis for the evictions, failing which the action be stopped immediately. We have just requested Durban Flying Squad intervene.
We wish a formal investigation to be instituted into the allegations that undocumented residents were renting their units from a local political structure or persons in said structure.
Cllr Warwick Chapman
083 7797 094