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Evicted residents plead for govt help

Residents say majority of their belongings were lost during the eviction.

FILE: Luci Mdluli and her 17-year-old disabled son are among the 2,000 tenants who were evicted from the Newtown Urban Village last week. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Fordsburg residents who were evicted from the Newtown Urban Building near the city centre last week, are claiming that nearly 50 pupils lost their text books during last week's raid by the Red Ants.

The Red Ants moved in on Thursday and evicted 2,000 people who had apparently been living illegally in the block of flats.

The new owner of the building, the Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC), said the property was occupied illegally.

A grade 9 pupil says she wants government to come to their rescue and help them reoccupy the building.

"Ever since we have been evicted the stress has been how we are going to get to school. Some of our books were lost and just thrown out. Of course I'm worried because I don't even know where half my books are at the moment."

DISABLED 17-YEAR-OLD

The Gauteng Department of Social Development said it dispatched officials to assist Lindokuhle Mdluli, a disabled 17-year-old boy, who was amongst the residents evicted.

But, the department's Sello Mokoena said their attempts to place the boy at a care centre were thwarted by his mother Lucia.

"The mother refused to grant permission for the boy to be placed at the centre because she maintains that the effort is not worth her while as her main need is a house. A local councillor has promised to assist her."

Mokoena added that they would continue to persuade Mdluli to accept their offer.

Lindokuhle had to sleep on mattresses on the pavement outside.

He was covered in damp blankets.

His mother said it has been six days since the teenager had a bath.

She said it would be better if he died so he would be spared from suffering.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the JHC to explain why the evictions were carried out in midwinter.

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader Jack Bloom issued a statement slamming the decision.

"The JHC has provided some good social housing projects, but these evictions are a stain on its reputation."

Bloom said the city was also to blame, saying it had been "ducking its responsibility" in the matter.

He added that alternative housing needed to be provided for people like Mdluli and her son, "who have nowhere else to go."

LOSING HOPE

Many of the residents say they've lost all hope of government coming to their rescue.

Some have built shelters in an effort to survive on the streets outside the building though the winter cold.

Four women camped in front of the locked security gates said they were depressed and hungry.

Referring to the government, they said, "If you wanted to help us, you'd have helped us long ago."

Last week, many residents said they had lost most of their property.

"Things are missing - the TV, the DVD, even my fridge, I don't know where they are."

One woman said she had nothing left and didn't even get to save her underwear.