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eThekwini Municipality facing legal action over relocation of homeless people

Between 1999 and 2004, more than 800 people living at the Ark shelter for the homeless were asked to relocate in order to make way for new developments in the city.

FILE: The municipality identified three locations in Durban where many of them were relocated but others were bused to a Cape Town shelter. Picture: Www.durban.gov.za

DURBAN - An organisation representing hundreds of people who were evicted from a Durban homeless shelter 15 years ago is suing the eThekwini Municipality for R500 million for failing to honour its promise.

Between 1999 and 2004, more than 800 people living at the Ark shelter for the homeless were asked to relocate in order to make way for new developments in the city.

The municipality identified three locations in Durban where many of them were relocated but others were bused to a Cape Town shelter.

The municipality promised to pay over R10 million to assist the group with their relocation but the money never materialised.

The eThekwini Municipality asked the Durban Ark Christian Church Ministry to register a company through which relocation funds were to be transferred.

However, the municipality failed to honour its promise and the company collapsed.

Some of the homeless who were evicted from the Ark 15 years ago have since died.

Mary Henderson – who is among the surviving members - claims they were dumped in derelict buildings.

“We’re living a place full of rats and cockroaches; I can’t live like that. I can’t live in that building, it is falling.”

Peter Munns, who is representing the group, said the R500 million they wanted from the municipality would be used to house thousands of homeless people in the city.

“We’ve already got a team – architects, builders, directors and a full construction team. We even have the land.”

The municipality has tried to argue that this case be thrown out on the basis that the company that was supposed to receive the funds has is now defunct.