Dept denies deal with MK Vets

The Human Settlement Department on Tuesday denied it was part of a deal to stop the eviction of MK veterans from the flagship Aloe Ridge housing complex where they have hijacked hundreds of flats.

“We were never part of the decision to stop the eviction of people in Aloe Ridge. The company that owns the complex took the decision not to pursue the legal route,” provincial Human Settlement Department spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said.

This after it had emerged that the war vets, who initially had hijacked about 100 flats, have now taken over more than 300 of the complex’s 950 units.

The housing complex, which was developed by non-profit organisation Capital City Housing with support from government, had been designed to provide affordable rental accommodation to low income people working around the city of Pietermaritzburg.

Baloyi said the national Human Settlement Department was in the process of setting up a meeting with the war vets, the Military Veterans Department and other stakeholders to address the problem in Aloe Ridge.

“The Msunduzi Municipality and the South African Military Veterans Association [SAMVA] will be part of the meeting,” he said.

Capital City Housing initially obtained a court interdict against the war vets in March shortly after the ex-combatants had moved in.

However, the company later announced that it no longer wanted the interdict to be executed, sparking views that a deal had been struck between the NPO, the provincial Human Settlement Department and the war vets.

Capital City Housing CEO Ivor Caldecott, who could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, had earlier told The Witness that the NGO had hoped for a speedy “political solution”. However, the situation at the complex has since turned ugly, with gangs of people calling themselves MK veterans renting out the hijacked flats and pocketing the rent.

In addition to their involvement in the hijacking of flats in Aloe Ridge, MK veterans are currently pushing a campaign to force municipalities around the Pietermaritzburg area to hand them jobs and tenders.

The campaign has since resulted in the ANC provincial leadership threatening to take action against the MK war vets, who claim that governing party bosses have reneged on promises to provide them with jobs and business opportunities.