tenants in revolt

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Tenants at nine hostels in Durban have stopped paying rent in protest of poor service delivery and rent increases.

Hostel dwellers said yesterday that the eThekwini municipality had failed to deliver services and that there was no development in their dwellings.

More than 7000 tenants from the nine hostels brought the city to a standstill when they took to the streets to protest on Saturday.

The hostels are Thokoza Women's hostel, Dalton, Jacobs, Mashu, Isulabasha, Seventeen, Glebelands, KwaMakhutha and SJ Smith.

The marchers handed a memorandum to Lennox Mabaso of the provincial department of housing.

Muzi Nyandeni, chairman of the Ubunye Bama-Hostel Committee said yesterday that tenants stopped paying rent from Saturday and that the campaign would continue until the province and the municipality acted on their demands. They paid between R20 and R70 a month for rooms.

He said that the decision to stop paying and to protest was taken after the municipality increased rent by "almost 100 percent without consulting us".

"We are worried. The municipality did not have the decency to consult us before taking deciding to increase the rent. What is even more annoying is that we see no development in the hostels.

"We have been told that we would have to pay rates, but we don't have ownership of the land or rooms we live in," said Nyandeni.

He said most of the rooms were leaking and water was destroying furniture every time it rained. The toilets were blocked because the sewage pipes were damaged and old. "The rooms are like pigs dwellings."

The residents also demanded that clinics, stadiums and schools be built inside the hostels.

Mabaso, spokesman for the housing and local government department which has been asked by the hostel dwellers to intervene, said they would give the memorandum their utmost attention. He said they would be meeting with eThekwini municipality officials to see how the matter can be resolved.