'I WANT MY STUFF BACK'

A SHERIFF has barged into a home in Bonella, Durban, and confiscated the family's furniture, appliances and other goods after the homeowner failed to pay arrears of R2 000 for rates.

A SHERIFF has barged into a home in Bonella, Durban, and confiscated the family's furniture, appliances and other goods after the homeowner failed to pay arrears of R2 000 for rates.

Alii Vaed said he could only afford to pay R7 000 of the R9 000 bill for municipal rates.

Though he had made arrangements to pay off the balance, the sheriff raided his house last Tuesday. At the time only his 12-year-old daughter was at home.

Vaed, a market trader for 19 years, already faces the uncertainty of him and his colleagues being moved from Early Morning Market in Warwick Junction to make way for a R400million mall.

He said he had received a letter from the municipality in March telling him that he had fallen behind with his rates and owed the city R9 000.

The father of six survives by selling fruit and vegetables at the market.

"I immediately paid R7 000," he said. "Though I owed them only R2 000 they still took my belongings.

"The sheriff used an old document though I had made arrangements with the municipality to pay off the balance."

He showed Sowetan the documents and receipts that confirmed his story.

The Vaed family now sit on the cold floor gathered around a radio set.

"I am forced to buy food to eat and cook every day because we no longer have a fridge," Vaed said.

"They took everything - the TV set, diningroom suite, kitchen sets, lounge suite and tables.

"I'm being harassed in the market when I try to make money by selling produce to feed my family. My home should be peaceful but I'm miserable.

"I would take legal action against the municipality but I'm poor and the money I make goes to school fees."

He said he had been in and out of municipal offices trying to get an explanation, but the officials seemed not to care about his plight.

"They have no interest," he said. "I have spoken to (eThekwini's housing chief) Nigel Gumede about my situation and have written a letter to MEC Willies Mchunu but have not received any help.

"All I want is to get my belongings back."

Philile Madonsela, manager of the municipal arrears department, said an investigation would be launched into Vaed's claims.

"We do take legal action when people owe rates," Madonsela said. "But I will look into Vaed's case and address it immediately with our legal team."

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