To evict or to vacate

A group of disgruntled tenants at a plot in Harare has come out with guns blazing against a local chapter of the South African National Civics Organisation(Sanco), accusing it of threatening them with eviction.

According to Nosithembele Mcenge, the plot was owned by an elderly citizen, until she moved to an old age home.

Mcenge said she had ben staying there for more than four years, but that their continued stay is now under threat from the civic organisation.

“I have been living here for a while now and when I first came I spoke to the owner who allowed me to put my shack and pay her a monthly rental fee,” she said.

But that changed when the landlady was moved to a facility for the aged.

She claimed: “When the owner moved out, Sanco ordered us to vacate the site as they needed it.”

Five families reside on the premises.

She added: “After she was taken away, Sanco came and told us that we needed to look for another place to live because they need the plot.”

Mcenge alleged that they were given three months notice to look for an alternative place to stay, failing which the leadership threatened to put their belongings on the streets.

However, Xolani Mpiko, Sanco chairperson in the area, has denied the allegations levelled against his organisation.

But he made a startling admission: “We gave them three months to vacate the house because we feel that they are wasting water and no one is paying rent.”

Mpiko added that they are looking for a relative of the original owner to come and live there.

Mpiko also alleged that Mcenge seemed to claim the plot as hers. Mcenge has vehemently denied the claim.

Mpiko said the tenants cannot claim the plot, because it has a title deed.

Another tenant, Buyiswa Mathole has confirmed allegations of harassment and the threats of eviction from Sanco.

She said Mcenge had an agreement with the owner, until she fell sick and was moved to a place of care, “And it did not make sense for Sanco to interfere.”

Both Mcenge and Mathole confirmed that the threats have been going on since April this year. Mpiko insisted on the ultimatum though and said Mcenge failed by not coming back to them if she had not yet found a place to stay. Ward 98 councillor Anele Gabuza would not be drawn on the issue as he was not aware of the saga, he said.