Residents in Alex evict 'foreigners' from RDPs

Residents have been evicting foreigners who stay in RDP houses in Alexandra township. / Veli Nhlapo
Residents have been evicting foreigners who stay in RDP houses in Alexandra township. / Veli Nhlapo

James Nkosi has been sleeping in his car for about two weeks now after a group of residents stormed his house in River Park, Alexandra, and evicted him after they accused him of being a foreigner.

Nkosi, 58, said the group of about 50 people came to his RDP home for the first time on June 29. They demanded he produce documents that proved his citizenship, he said.

"I gave them my ID document but they said they do not want me here. I am a foreigner and I must get out of the house. They told me I do not qualify to be in the house. They then threw away my furniture," Nkosi said.

Nkosi's father was a South African but his mother was from Mozambique. He was born in Mbuzini village near Komatipoort, Mpumalanga.

Nkosi is one of at least six families thrown out by a group believed to be from other parts of the township.

Residents were moved by the government from Stjwetla informal settlement in 2009 to River Park as they lived along a floodline.

With no other place to go, Nkosi reorganised his furniture outside the house and slept in his van that night.

The car then become his home as he wanted to guard his furniture outside the house. Last Saturday, he said, the same group came back and found him charging the machine he uses to help him with his asthma.

"They first came around midday to check if I was still there. They asked if I was leaving or not. I told them I'm still looking for a place to stay.

"They then threw away all my furniture to the streets and also returned in the evening to check if I had not returned into the house," said Nkosi.

The RDP houses have two rooms attached to them. The original plan was for those who qualified for RDPs to move into the houses and those who did not to use the rental flats attached to the house.

Over time, the tenants have refused to pay rent as they claimed those who were in the houses were foreign nationals.

Nkosi is still sleeping in his van while looking for a place to stay.

Local anti-rental committee chairperson Pheladi Makelani said they were against the evictions as they are "inhumane".

In its response, the Gauteng department of human settlements said people living in the houses were "all South Africans. No foreign nationals were allocated houses".

Spokesperson Tahir Sema said: "We have established a task team with SAPS, anti-fraud unit and home affairs. Victims of illegal evictions must continue to report these criminals to their nearest police station...

"No one has the right to unilaterally evict people in any government development."

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