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Human dignity trampled upon during security company’s demolition of 19 shacks

Two weeks ago, MEG security demolished nineteen shacks that were erected in Mountain View, Ext. 9.

Two weeks ago, MEG security demolished nineteen shacks that were erected in Mountain View, Ext. 9.

Many residents have described this as a violation of their right to human dignity. One of the affected residents, Priscila Koena (22), has since opened a case of malicious damage to property at the Ikageng police station.

According to Sgt Kelebogile Trom, Priscilla, her partner and their 2-year-old son were asleep when they heard noises outside at about 02:00. ‘Priscilla peeped through the window and saw about 50 MEG security guards. They forced the door open and started dismantling the corrugated sheets.

‘The family ran away to Priscilla’s mother’s place nearby.

Pricilla’s cupboard bought with hard earned money was also damaged.

Security guard threatened to shoot her
‘When she enquired, a security guard pushed her and she protested. During the altercation, he threatened to shoot her and fired a warning shot in the air,’ reported Trom.

Priscilla’s mother (48) was furious and wanted to know where those responsible expected the family to sleep. ‘Some of her furniture like the bed, cupboard and the TV stand was damaged. They also removed about 45 corrugated sheets, 11 poles, window frames and a door frame and helped themselves to things like groceries, toiletries and shoes,’ she said angrily.

Community members take what remained after the evictions. Photo: Selogile Leshage

Young men recruited from a tavern reeking of alcohol
She said her daughter had not only suffered grave injustices, the procedures that the MEG personnel had followed also left a lot to be desired. She alleges that some of the men deployed in the sting operation were not employees. ‘I have heard that they were recruited from a tavern and were promised money for every shack they demolished. They reeked of alcohol and told the residents that they were only following orders,’ she said.

On Monday afternoon, the mother went back to fetch the carpets that were left behind in the raid. She admits that her daughter had not been allocated the land formally. ‘We were led to believe that since electricity was coming to the area, people could move onto the unoccupied land. ‘We also believe that if you have already been on the land for more than 48 hours, no one is supposed to move you from the area. This is not the way to treat another human being,’ she said bitterly.

According to a community leader, Ivan Ramasimong, the municipality instructed the security company to demolish the shacks of the illegal occupants who had occupied the land over the weekend. However, in the process, they also demolished the shacks of lawful occupants of the stands.

Johan Zerwick, the ward councillor said old people have been on the waiting lists for years. ‘Now, others want to jump in and just take the stands. Let’s keep the law and order in South Africa,’ he urged.

The J.B. Marks municipality responds to the incident
The J.B. Marks municipality and MEG have responded to the allegations.

According to Willie Maphosa, the council spokesperson, some councillors allocated the stands in Ikageng Ext. 9 (Ward 12) without following the correct procedures.

This resulted in double allocations. The office of the speaker and the mayor have since reprimanded these councillors.

‘The Department of Technical Services’ division of housing has since taken over and will verify the rightful occupants of the sites from 23 July 2018. Until they have been verified, the process of allocations has been suspended. This process will also prove or disprove the claims that some of the occupants have come from as far as Free State or are government officials.

Maphosa says people have allegedly been purporting to sell the stands on behalf of the municipality. ‘We warn residents to be wary of these opportunistic elements. The municipality does not sell these stands, it allocates them to the neediest residents according to set criteria. If the municipality does decide to sell any of them, they are ordinarily advertised through the correct procedures,’ he said.

Municipality following up on allegations of abuse
‘The municipality is following up on the allegations of abuse by the security company that carried out the evictions. The information we have is that some of the illegal dwellers went on a rampage and destroyed other dwellers’ shacks to be able to build their own,’ he said.

‘According to MEG Security, only two shacks were found to have furniture in them. One with one occupant had a base and mattress in it. In the other, there was only a glass table that fell and broke by accident. They claim that all the other shacks were empty. Most of them had been erected overnight the day before.

‘At the right time, the housing division and the office of the mayor will announce when and how the people can come and reclaim their corrugated iron. The municipality is wary of releasing this building material, however, as people often go back and rebuild these illegal structures.

‘Meanwhile, we also warn those who have been affected to be wary of people who demand money for the release of their property,’ concluded Maphosa. He could not say whether the municipality would replace the damaged or missing furniture

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