Civil rights group to fight evictions

A civil rights initiative is to challenge the eviction of several poor families from a Rustenburg suburb in court, it said yesterday.

A civil rights initiative is to challenge the eviction of several poor families from a Rustenburg suburb in court, it said yesterday.

The North West municipality failed to provide alternative accommodation for the evictees, which it was legally obliged to do, said AfriForum, an initiative set up by trade union Solidarity.

AfriForum would now seek to have the municipality's eviction of the families from municipal rental homes in the suburb of Geelhoutpark set aside. In the past two months, 23 families had been evicted, said AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel.

"When the initial eviction order was obtained, the municipality undertook to provide alternative and affordable accommodation to those who were to be evicted as a result of their inability to afford the rent."

Rustenburg Municipality spokesman Butler Matlapeng said they were "not obliged to provide alternative accommodation".

"We went out of our way to be as human as possible, but they have been quite unreasonable." He said the municipality had tried to negotiate with the tenants to come up with payment plans, but to no avail.

The matter had been dragging on for about two years. Matlapeng said the families owed the municipality about R500000 in rent alone.

"Water and electricity bills had also not been paid," he said.

He said in one case a tenant "left overnight", leaving three large dogs on the property.

Kriel said it was a "national disgrace" that while the authorities were accusing the farming community of illegal and inhumane evictions, a government institution was violating the residential rights and human dignity of needy people. - Sapa

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