Women, children and elderly suffer in Alex evictions

By Everson Luhanga

More than 50 families in Alexandra township in Johannesburg who were evicted from the modified shipping containers they illegally occupied have been squatting in the open for more than a week.

Women, children, and the elderly among those evicted claim they have nowhere else to go.

Alexandra resident Thabiso Vilakazi said the containers were built next to neighbouring Marlboro in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The contractors left them half-finished and abandoned the project,” he said. “No one moved into the containers until last February. We took a bold decision to move into the containers because it is a trend in Alexandra where unfinished housing projects end up being illegally occupied by residents.”

Thabiso said this was one of many abandoned projects in the township. 

“We have a similar project in Alexandra’s River Park where blocks of flats built by the city of Johannesburg were left without completion.”

This gave residents the chance to illegally occupy them.

Thabiso said several attempts by law enforcement to evict people from the flats failed. The city stationed one security guard but he left the gates unguarded, giving people a chance to occupy the flats.

He said residents living in the containers had been getting notices of eviction since the beginning of the year. 

“Last week, police and private security came and threw everyone out of the containers,” Thabiso said. 

Since then, the gates have been locked and there are security personnel guarding the place. Over 50 families have been left homeless.

Scrolla.Africa visited the area on Thursday. Several of the evicted families have erected makeshift shelters using their belongings and whatever else they can find. They warm themselves at fires where they also cook their meals.

Another Alex resident, Vuyolwethu Mbatha, said: “Some people are given temporary accommodation after being evicted. We are left in the rain with no one to help us.”

Voyolwethu said she was happy that this was happening in an election year. “We know who they are. We will return the favour at the ballot box on 29 May,” she said.

Another resident who didn’t want to be named said the sad part is that children and the elderly are the hardest hit. “When it rains, we have nowhere to go,” he said.

Pictured above: Residents of Alexandra who moved into residential containers were evicted.

Image source: Everson Luhanga 


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