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National 18.5.2017 05:23 am

Metro cops demolish West Rand houses without legal order, says consultant

GONE. More than 500 shacks were destroyed by JMPD officers in the areas next to Jerusalem informal settlement on the West Rand.
Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

GONE. More than 500 shacks were destroyed by JMPD officers in the areas next to Jerusalem informal settlement on the West Rand. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Hundreds of residents of an informal settlement near Florida lose their homes and are out in the cold.

Hundreds of residents of an informal settlement near Florida, who were left out in the cold yesterday, claim they were evicted illegally from the land.

Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers were deployed early yesterday to demolish scores of newly built homes, while many of their owners were at work.

Community members watched in horror as homes were torn down, with many claiming they had not been informed they would be evicted.

Miriam Bareki, a legal consultant who says she had been working with the community, claimed most of the residents had been living there since January, meaning the three-month window within which an eviction without notice would have been legal was over.

She said she would approach the courts to seek an interdict against the Gauteng housing department. But a man who did not want to be named and claimed to be overseeing the eviction said an eviction order was obtained through the courts by the department.

He said the occupants only moved there in the past month. Housing MEC Paul Mashatile’s spokesperson, Mogomotsi Mogodiri, said he was not aware of such an eviction order and directed The Citizen to Mashatile’s office’s legal department.

Efforts to reach the legal department for comment were to no avail.

Bareki and some of the community members were demanding answers from the JMPD officers on site, saying that no one had explained to them why they were being evicted.

She claimed that the area was authorised for occupation by most of the residents, while some, she conceded, were living there illegally.

“This place has been authorised, but I understand that in some areas, people were not supposed to be building there.

“But I want them to show us, because all the committees … no one has received the court order as they (JMPD) are saying they brought it on Saturday. I am representing them and want to see that court order.

“I am shocked to see that the metro police are here demolishing the houses and they haven’t yet received an eviction order. There is a procedure to be followed. You cannot just come and evict,” Bareki said.

The City of Joburg was unable to answer a query on the matter at the time of going to press.

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