With the deadline approaching for Mkhonto weSizwe (MK) war veterans to vacate the Pietermaritzburg flats they invaded in Aloe Ridge three years ago, the former soldiers could soon find themselves homeless.
The war veterans have disrupted the construction of houses which the KwaZulu-Natal human settlement department intended to move them into after December — the deadline they were given to vacate the Aloe Ridge flats.
According to sources, the war vets, who are demanding business opportunities at the sites where the houses are being built, have ordered builders off the sites.
A service provider appointed by the department to build some of the war vets’ houses said:
They only want building companies linked to them to do the work. Even in those sites where they have been hired to build the houses, they have stopped working after demanding large sums of money for their services. “If things continue this way, then there won’t be any houses ready for occupation by December.
In Copesville where most of the war veterans’ houses are currently being built, construction work has been suspended due to a dispute between the war vets and the main contractor.
Human settlement MEC, Jomo Sibiya, said the department’s officials have been asked to look into the matter.
“I will also be paying more attention to it and many other projects involving military veterans,” he said.
While Sibiya said the department wanted to see the war vets deriving economic benefits out of the projects, he made it clear that the department has no control over the rates which the main contractor paid subcontractors.
“The department is not involved in the negotiation of rates with various suppliers,” he said.
In 2018, heavily armed war veterans who are part of the Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) the Pan Africanist Congress’s Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) and Azapo’s Azanian National Liberation Army (Azanla) invaded the Aloe Ridge rental housing complex in Westgate.
The invasion plunged Capital City Housing (CCH), the NPO which owns the Aloe Ridge complex, into a financial crisis as it was not able to generate any rental income from the more than 200 flats which were illegally occupied by the war vets.
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Following negotiations between the department, CCH and the war vets, it was agreed that the invaders would vacate the Aloe Ridge flats by December.
Msunduzi Municipality, which was also affected by the invasion as it could not bill the war vets for the electricity which they were consuming while in Aloe Ridge, released some of the land where the war veterans’ houses are currently being built.
In October, several war vets from Aloe Ridge were arrested after they were alleged to have held cabinet ministers hostage after talks between the former soldiers and the ministers had collapsed at a Pretoria hotel.
The Pretoria Magistrate Court later withdrew the kidnapping charges against the war vets.