How can the city do this? - Durban residents facing eviction

Amanda Khoza, News24

Durban - About 200 Westgate Gardens residents are living on edge as rumours circulate that they may be evicted to make way for Umkonto weSizwe military veterans.

The eThekwini Municipality has refuted the claim, saying it was “unfounded” and that many residents living in the municipal flats had defaulted on rental payments.

A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “We have some of the veterans living in the complex and they told us that the city will be relocating us to make way for more veterans.”

The source said residents feel betrayed by the city.

“How can the city do this? There are families who have been living here for over 20 years, there are pensioners and our whole lives are here,” the source said.

“They went door-to-door checking if people’s rents were up to date and if they weren’t they gave them seven days to vacate the building.”

DA councillor for ward 27 Martin Meyer said the eThekwini Municipality has been eyeing the Westgate Gardens council flats for some time now.

Poor families

Meyer said most of the people that live there were poor families occupying the rundown flats.

He said the city was struggling to keep up with the illegal occupants, subletting and low payment of rent.

“There are a lot of rumours in the building, the residents said they heard that the complex has been earmarked for Umkonto we Sizwe military veterans.”

Meyer questioned why the city was only targeting Westgate Gardens.

Meyer said Westgate Gardens was built in the 1940s and the complex was home to soldiers returning from World War II.

“There was a heated meeting last week Tuesday between the city and the residents. The problem is that the families are anxious; they don’t know how long they will be here,” said Meyer.

MK veterans ‘not aware’

Provincial Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association Deputy Secretary, Linda Mbuthu said he was not aware of such a move. “I haven’t heard anything about this but I will ask with the eThekwini regional leadership.”

EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said where tenants were in default with rental payments, the city’s Treasury Department would take the appropriate action for non-payment.

Mthethwa said tenants who were in arrears with their rentals should liaise with the revenue management section in treasury to make arrangements to settle their arrears.

“If they require further clarity, they should also liaise with the manager of the rental section, Fumana Gangatele at or 031 311 3446,” said Mthethwa.