This is the story of Thandeka Ngcelwane who, last week, was allocated No.59, a government built shack in Langa Temporary Relocation Area. However, while she was away from her new home for a few hours to visit her brother, the TRA committee headed by Zukisani Sibunzi broke the lock on her door and put someone else in the home. When she returned she found a lady in her home and her belongings removed - Ngcelwane had been illegally evicted from her home and, since her old shack in Joe Slovo was now demolished, she was left with nowhere else to go.
This story is not unique. Currently there are large numbers of TRA structures being illegally sold and allocated to people – some of whom already have another home. In Langa TRA, Abahlali baseMjondolo has mobilised to stop the corruption and ensure that the most vulnerable get access to these structures.
Ngcelwane is a young lady who is particularly vulnerable. She has been evicted from Joe Slovo Informal Settlement which is being demolished in order to construct houses for some other residents. Ngcelwane has been given a tiny shack in Langa TRA with the promise that she would soon get a house – though we know this might never actually happen.
We think that she has some form of epilepsy although it remains hard to figure at what exactly she suffers from or even if she is getting proper treatment. When Ngcelwane becomes upset or stressed, as has been happening many times since her eviction, she will have a seizure and become disoriented and lose track of where she is and what she is doing. Because of her forced homelessness and as a result of everything that has been happening, it has been difficult for Ngcelwane to function normally.
From Ngcelwane's side, everything has been legal and she has official papers from the Housing Development Agency (HDA) ensuring her right to be in TRA no.59. The lady who is now occupying the home through the actions of Zukisani, does not have any papers giving her the right to be in the home. However, when Abahlali baseMjondolo approached Zukisani, he vaguely promised to find Ngcelwane another shack even though he had no right to allocate any of the structures in the first place.
We have approached the HDA but our phone calls and messages have been continuously ignored even though this is an emergency. The HDA seems not to want to address the matter which could be easily resolved.
Even after we approached the police, we were ignored. The police claim that this home invasion and illegal eviction is somehow a civil rather than criminal case. They refuse to get involved even if it is their supposed duty to protect us. We do not understand why one of the most vulnerable people in our community is being made homeless and the police and HDA are doing nothing about it.
Now, Abahlali baseMjondolo members in the community have begun to receive threats from Zukisani, his committee and from unknown people who we think are associated with him. Cindy Ketani has been threatened a few times now. Most recently on Friday night when unknown people began shaking and banging on her shack. The mother of Tumi, one of the youth leaders, has received anonymous calls saying that his days are numbered if he does not resign from Abahlali.
While a few other supporters of Abahlali baseMjondolo have also been threatened, the police have once again refused to take the matter seriously. We have also informed Cllr. Sopaqa but he has refused to come and listen to the cry of Abahlali. If there is bloodshed, the police and the Cllr. will also be responsible.
For more information contact:
Mobile: 083 536 3604
Mobile: 076 086 6690
For more about Abahlali BaseMjondolo, refer to www.abahlali.org.
For more about Abahlali BaseMjondolo of the Western Cape, refer to www.khayelitshastruggles.com.
For more about Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, refer to www.antieviction.org.za.
To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleases.