Residents sleep on the street with belongings
KITCHEN appliances, cosmetics, pieces of bread and other household items lay strewn across the road.
Old and young people went through the detritus, looking for documents that had been thrown out by the Red Ants.
The Red Ants had evicted all the residents from Fattis Mansion, allegedly a hijacked building that had been occupied illegally.
Yesterday, the evicted tenants’ goods lay on Harrison Street in the Joburg CBD, blocking the road.
According to one resident, Nokubonga Khumalo, the tenants were told not longer than 24 hours before their eviction that they would have to pack up and leave.
The Red Ants allegedly arrived at the building around 8am to remove the residents.
Another resident, who spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity, said he had not received an eviction notice but came home on July 18 to find all his furniture outside.
“I came back from work and found everything outside. I couldn’t even go to work today,” he said.
Khumalo described how she had gone upstairs to her apartment to find her identity book.
But when she came back, she was met by a platoon of men in black and red uniforms telling her to “get out now!”
“One was touching me inappropriately. They take nyaope addicts to act as Red Ants. I hear that one girl even got raped. I slept right here – in the cold,” said Khumalo, pointing to the tar of the street, a wet towel and what resembled a kitchen table. “I would have gone to stay with my friend in Soweto but they robbed me of my money,” she added.
A mother of a child with hydrocephalus (accumulation of spinal fluid in the brain) bemoaned the “inhumane manner” in which she was evicted, leaving her without shelter and resources to care for her child.
“It was difficult to sleep outside, especially when you have a small baby,” she said.
Asked where the baby was, she pointed to a pile of clothes, mattresses and appliances. “There,” she said. The woman also said she had a bath at a cousin’s place.
Another resident said the eviction had not been conducted with dignity.
“We have people here who have been brutalised, robbed and raped. I have been living here for 16 years, since 2001,” the man said. According to the man, this was the fifth eviction to have happened at the building since last year.
The latest eviction was done by court order, which was unopposed because the residents did not have legal representation or did not know about the court process.
Lindokuhle Mdabe, the lawyer for the evictees, confirmed that the matter was now in the hands of the court.
“They didn’t know about the eviction. We brought the matter before the court at 6pm on an urgent basis to get the residents back inside.
“We are making a second application to have set aside the court order that was granted against the residents, without them having been present in court,” Mdabe said.
“The judge ordered that the residents must be timeously provided with accommodation and that we bring an application to have the existing order set aside.”
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) has lodged an urgent application to have the tenants allowed into the building and to have the existing eviction order rescinded.
But yesterday, the judge presiding over the matter refused to let the residents move back, saying the building was unsafe.
He said the city must provide alternative accommodation for residents and next week SERI must apply to have the existing eviction order set aside.