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By Zanele Mbengo

Journalist


Allendale Farm community left in cold after shacks are demolished

Allendale Farm residents are devastated after City of Joburg demolishes shacks, leaving families homeless. They are turning to lawyers.


Frustrated residents of Allendale Farm informal settlement stood helpless as they watched City of Joburg and the Gauteng department of human settlements (GDHS) employees demolish hundreds of shacks – homes to many families.

A resident, John Khoza, who lives with his two sons, expressed frustration, saying this wasn’t the first time their homes had been demolished.

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“We moved to this place last year because I don’t have a permanent job and couldn’t afford rent. They used to demolish our houses almost every month last year but stopped in November,” he said, adding they were not informed about the eviction.

‘They took everything’

“They took everything. I have nothing left to my name now. It’s cold and it is going to rain and I have no shelter over my head. All I can do is to build with these remaining boxes just to cover my head tonight.”

The operation was carried out by GDHS in collaboration with the Johannesburg Metro Police Department and the Red Ant Security Relocation & Eviction Services.

Residents said the demolishing began in the morning when the authorities arrived. Despite being informed by authorities “only unoccupied shacks would be removed”, residents were surprised to find their occupied homes demolished.

Community leaders were angry as their homes and offices were set on fire on Thursday night.

A community leader, Sibonelo Duma, noted there were five leaders placed to serve residents at different sections.

“These leaders were asked to communicate to a lawyer who was going to represent the residents since residents paid money for the lawyer but we found out the money was misused,” he said.

“When the lawyer was approached, he said he was never paid. At the moment there’s no court order stating residents have ownership of this place. This place is under the city.”

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Duma said community leaders came together and appointed a new lawyer who was representing them. The director and practicing attorney at Mngomezulu Attorneys, Osmond Mngomezulu, said before their services were engaged there were unlawful evictions carried out, the last one being on 30 November, 2023.

“We went to the High Court in Johannesburg and issued an application to declare the eviction and demolitions unlawful, and to interdict the city and JMPD from coming back to the property to unlawfully evict the occupiers.

“And, to our surprise, this morning they have now unlawfully evicted again. Thankfully, we were able to come and stop them. We are now in the process of drafting an agent application which we would like to sit down for hearing today to put an end to this unlawfulness,” he said.

Mngomezulu said the relief they sought now was the restoration of the status quo. Where the “city is ordered by the court to rebuild the homes they have demolished”.

Small businesses now to struggle

A resident, Sindile Mazibuko, sold alcohol for a living said it will be hard for her business to recover after the eviction.

She said residents were evicted more than four times last year and were never informed why.

“This year we were not evicted, it gave me hope, finally our homes were ours now. I don’t have a plan or a place I can run to. I will stay and rebuild my house and build my business again. This is my home,” she said.

GDHS spokesperson Tahir Sema said the government was ready to approach the courts immediately should anyone challenge the evictions.

“Government will not hesitate to evict those who invade land and property,” he said.

“Communities are encouraged to report the illegal occupation of land and houses to local law enforcement authorities.”

Another resident, Bongane Dlamini, said he felt the government has failed them.

“I am expected to vote next month yet I don’t have a house. The government failed to provide me with a house so I made a plan to come here. But still the same government is sending me to the streets,” Dlamini said.