Pretoria – Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Jacob Mamabolo, has strongly condemned the use of violence by some residents of a Johannesburg inner-city flat as a strategy to stop evictions.

This after violence had erupted in the inner city on Monday, which left 10 people injured and admitted in hospital.

They were injured during confrontation between residents of Castle Blaney building in Joubert Park, Hillbrow and contractors appointed by the Sheriff of the Court to effect the eviction.

Gun shots were also fired from the building, according to the police. The local police and metro officials were deployed on site to restore peace and order.

“The violence which broke out confirms numerous reports indicating that criminal elements are taking advantage of legitimate housing concerns of the poor inner-city residents in order to promote their illegal activities.

“It is also clear that criminal gangs are provoking contractors employed by the Sheriff to execute the evictions to cause violence and mayhem. Their actions are criminal and we are working with the law enforcement agencies to take drastic action against those who are responsible,” MEC Mamabolo said.

The department has been in constant contact with the Sheriff and all parties involved were advised to leave the building before the eviction date as well as to make other arrangements to seek alternative accommodation with neighbours, relatives or friends.

“After reviewing the case and consulting all parties, we are satisfied that the eviction is legal and is being conducted in a fair and just manner. In addition to Court Notices, the department also circulated early warning pamphlets last week to alert everyone, on time, as well as to advise residents to co-operate with the removal companies employed by the Sheriff to execute the evictions.

“We also deployed officials from the department on site to monitor the eviction process. Working with stakeholders, our objective is to minimise the number of evictions through mediations as well as to
ensure that in cases where we are unable to assist, evictions are carried out violence-free to ensure that the most vulnerable residents such as women, children, the aged and disabled are given priority,” MEC Mamabolo said.

MEC Mamabolo explained that the process is part of a long-term strategy which will enable government to drastically reduce the number of evictions through a joint co-operation between the Courts, Provincial Rental Tribunal as well as Property Owners.

“By sharing information on all pending evictions registered through the legal system, we are able to intervene on time thereby minimising violence, damage and loss of property as well as the loss of lives,” he said.

MEC Mamabolo said the process is a humanitarian approach which is not intended to undermine the Courts but to pro-actively avert ongoing and ugly confrontations associated with most evictions.

“We hope the approach will enable us to bring about harmony and further entrench stability between landlords and tenants in our province.

“Since the establishment of a Provincial Evictions Task Team we are seeing a new trend in which parties are now allowing us to mediate through the Housing Rental Tribunal thereby assisting in averting pending evictions. Shelter is a human right and restores the dignity of the poor. We need all stakeholders to work together to find lasting solutions to the inner-city housing challenges,” said MEC Mamabolo.