Joburg housing scheme replicates backyard shack problem
The backyard shack problem that has plagued Alexandra for years has been inadvertently replicated by the City of Joburg in its new housing scheme in Riverpark.
The new houses in Riverpark's K206 and extensions 9 and 10 were constructed about two years ago. They are two-level RDP houses, but the council decided to build on rental rooms attached to the bottom of the house.
However, confusion reigns as to who the rental money should be paid to.
The council and the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) announced at the time of building that the rental rooms would benefit the homeowner, who could supplement his or her income. The rooms were said to be suitable for transient people who were in the city to look for work, and for people who did not qualify for RDP houses.
However, when development and renewal started happening in Alexandra in preparation for the Fifa World Cup, people were removed from schools and sportsfields and the Setswetla squatter camp on the banks of the Jukskei River. They were housed in the rental rooms, without permission or knowledge of the owner.
In fact, some of the tenants were there before the houses were allocated to RDP beneficiaries.
Now the owners want the tenants to start paying rent or leave. Landlords gave the tenants until August 1 to vacate, threatening them with
Teviction. But it seems that none of the tenants plan to move out.
Backyard shacks have been a problem for years in Alex following land claims. During the 1940s, residents were allowed to purchase properties, but they were then expropriated in 1958 when the former government wanted to "shut down" the township. Property owners remained on their land but were reduced to tenants paying rent to the government.
In later years, some bought their properties back, but at that stage other tenants had moved in, claiming rights.
Because of these ownership disputes, the owners of the houses to this day find themselves burdened with tenants who use services and refuse to pay for them, and build shacks and resell them when they leave.
The city and the ARP have been trying to grapple with this problem for years, and much of the new housing built was destined for these backyard dwellers.
Property owners brave enough to take action are threatened with violence. Eviction orders have been sought, but the tenants return soon after the sheriff leaves.
The city has now started the tenant/landlord problem all over again at the new Riverpark housing project.
Wilson Makoba said he had been moved from a sportsground in old Alex to Riverpark.
"They moved us in a hurry, saying they needed to complete the work in time for the soccer. We were not told we would have to pay rent of R350 a month," he said.
"These so-called landlords got their houses for free, so why should we pay rent when we were forcibly removed? There are old people who were moved here - where are they going to go?"
Mackson Muvhango said his landlady constantly talks about what she will do "when he is gone".
Ernest Matlejoane was stabbed twice by his landlord, and is still bedridden as a result. He has laid a charge at the Alexandra police station and is still waiting for action.
"He wants me out but I nowhere to go," he said.
The ANC's Joburg region now says rental must go to the council.
Spokesman Jolidee Matongo said the party was aware of people collecting rentals from tenants.
"We are calling on the City of Joburg to conduct an investigation around this, as this is money which should go to the council," he said.
The council did not respond questions sent three weeks ago.
Posted at 08:26AM Aug 03, 2012 by Editor in Residential |