East Bank housing tensions escalating with intimidation

Tensions  are boiling among East Bank residents in East London over the allocation of RDP houses, with those still living in shacks accused of intimidating housing beneficiaries.

MALACIOUS DAMAGE: Thozama Bhe stands in front of her home which she had to abandon after residents felled a tree during a housing dispute. Picture: MARK ANDREWS

This has been ongoing since January this year. But the feud between those who have received houses and those who are still living in shacks, escalated over the past few weeks and resulted in one woman’s house being damaged by a tree.

The tree which fell on top of the house two weeks ago, was allegedly cut down by those still living in shacks.

“I am deeply saddened by this because I was not home on that Sunday and other people called me to check what had happened to my house,” said Thozama Bhe who lives next to the new housing development.

“I went to the councillor and she sent me to the committee and they said it was none of their business. My house is now unsafe for me and my four-year-old daughter to live in, so we had to move,” she told the Daily Dispatch.

The enormous tree was cut down and fell onto her house. Branches were seen blocking the entrance and covering the structure.

Lewis Webb, who lives with his elderly parents in Elephant Road, said they have been threatened by other community members who want them to move.

“They [community members] cut down these trees and we suspect the councillor had a hand in it because she wants us out of the way as well.

“My parents are not on the list to receive houses but they were told to move so the building can continue on this part of the land.

“If we had a house to go to, we would move as underhanded tactics like this is frustrating,” he said.

Lewis said they had been living in the area for about 10 years.

He said because their shack dwelling is part of the site earmarked for the RDP houses, community members took matters into their own hands by cutting down trees around them to make way for the new houses.

Elsie Enkeld echoed Lewis’s sentiments saying that she had bought an RDP house in another part of East Bank but before she could move in, it was vandalised.

“I still owe so much money on my bond and now I can’t move to my house because it was vandalised. If these people who are threatening us can fix it, I will move out of their way.

“I am fed up with living like this because these constant threats of them bulldozing our shacks is unpleasant,” she said.

Under-fire ward 10 councillor Roseline Vitbooi said: “I am not willing to comment. Thank you very much.”

By the time of writing, BCM spokeswoman Bathandwa Diamond had failed to comment on the matter. — oreillya@tisoblackstar.co.za

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