'You can take me out of my house when I am dead,' says Alexandra resident facing mob eviction

Melissa and Gibson Ncube pose for a portrait at their home in Alexandra, Johannesburg. The pair have been the victims of xenophobic attacks for over a year by a group of residents that claim that Gibson doesn’t have the correct paperwork to reside and own his property.
Melissa and Gibson Ncube pose for a portrait at their home in Alexandra, Johannesburg. The pair have been the victims of xenophobic attacks for over a year by a group of residents that claim that Gibson doesn’t have the correct paperwork to reside and own his property.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

An Alexandra man says he is willing to die for the house he was rightfully allocated by government - this after community members tried to evict him at the weekend.

"You can only take me out of my house only when I am dead. This is my house and I applied for it," a despairing Gibson Ncube said while seated on the brown couch of his Alexandra home.

Broken glass photo frames hang above his head.

The two-bedroom duplex belonging to Ncube is situated in a narrow street in the township. Ncube applied for the house back in the 1960s, but was moved into it in 2010.

For him and his family, it has always been home. But they had been facing eviction threats by community members in the township since December last year.

He said his family had been victimised by community members who had been demanding the papers of the house over the past few months.

"I was questioned why I still use the green identity book. I told them that no one is allowed to ask me why I still use the green book.

"They told me that they are working with the MEC for housing and the president [Cyril Ramaphosa] and they are doing auditing."

The latest attack happened on Saturday.

Ncube was at his business where he sells clothes on the side of the road, not far from his house. His wife was home alone when the mob arrived.

"They came to the house and tortured the children and threatened to kill me."

His wife and the neighbour went to him to alert him. He then rushed to the police station to ask for help.

He said after a two-hour wait, police failed to dispatch officers to accompany him back to the house.

He walked back and found all his belongings on the street.

Ncube said the mob also stole R4,800 from their house and broke some of their belongings. His neighbours later helped him move his belongings back into the house.

"I also had to look for someone with a grinder to cut the security gate off, because it was locked and they took the keys with them."

His wife's employer, Chris Yellend, helped them open a case at the Alexandra police station that evening.

"We came back to the wife and we slept without curtains. We had to use a screwdriver to lock the door from the inside. The gate was also open and I had to park my car by the neighbours."

On Sunday, the mob returned and told him that they would return on Tuesday to take him to home affairs for his fingerprints.

"I believe in prayer. I think if I wasn't controlled by God, I would have done something, but I fear God the most," he said.

His wife Melissa said since the threats started, their lives had changed completely.

"We live in constant fear. They rob and rape people. I have two daughters and my husband is working.

"They are violent and aggressive people. I am not well now since this started."

Melissa said her eldest daughter broke down and cried throughout Saturday evening.

"This our house, what do they want? The police must stop these people, because they are criminals and deserve to go to jail."

Police confirmed that a case had been opened.

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