About 30 beneficiaries of RDP houses in uMlazi left in Limbo

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About 30 beneficiaries of government’s RDP houses, who were forcefully removed from their homes by a feared construction mafia in uMlazi, south of Durban, are still waiting to be assisted. The incident took place in 2017.

The victims, mostly women, say they’ve tried in vain to lodge complaints with municipal authorities. The eThekwini Municipality says its hands are tied. The H16 Project stands conspicuous along Dingani Road in uMlazi.

The hijacked government houses were meant for the indigents and flood victims who had been housed in temporary government housing known as oLindela. The flats are a multimillion-rand project earmarked to accommodate 350 families.

But upon completion of phase one, gun-toting gangs chased out 30 occupants who had only occupied the homes for a month in 2017. The project has since been halted.

The victims remain displaced, with some opting to pay rent elsewhere. They are blaming the municipality for its failure to address their concerns.

“After moving into the new house, we started encountering problems such as threats including being shot at. The thugs were fighting us day and night. So, we couldn’t stomach it, hence we decided to move out from the RDP houses,” says Bawinile Zuma, uMlazi resident.

“The municipality must act on the issue. Even now they didn’t even respond to us. They have never entertained us. We have been writing several times to the mayor’s office, but no one is responding,” says Ayanda Phoswa, another uMlazi resident.

Local councillor at the time S’thenjwa Nyawose has confirmed the invasion, saying one of the beneficiaries was shot dead by the gang.

“They’re the rightful owners. They’re the beneficiaries. They were rightfully allocated by the municipality. In fact, they were chased away by the people who invaded their houses. Those who are living there as we speak are not the rightful owners,”

The municipality says its hands are tied and the victims need to report the matter to the police.

“The legal unit advised that since the houses were already handed over to the 30 beneficiaries, the municipality has no direct case as it’s now a third party. The beneficiaries should apply for a court order so that there’s justice and the criminals involved are brought to book,” says Gugu Sisilana, eThekwini municipality spokesperson.

The municipality further says, for now it can only support the beneficiaries through submitting supporting affidavits to strengthen their case. It says it’s preparing to issue the victims with title deeds.

However, the displaced residents say they fear they may not be able to apply for another government housing subsidy as the current housing database reflects them as having been allocated houses.