Madulammoho Statement: Evictions at El Kero House
The following is statement from Madulammoho regarding the El Kero situation described previously in this blog entry:
A tenant at El Kero started to default on her rental payments in 2008. MHA has tried to assist her on several occasions: offering a cheaper unit, making arrangements for payments, etc.
The tenant then approached the Department of Housing, stating that Madulammoho has defrauded the tenants with the institutional subsidies (the once-off capital subsidy to build social housing for rental that is given to institutions like Madulammoho) and that the building does not belong to Madulammoho. The tenant claimed that since El Kero is a government building they do not need to pay rent.
After all our attempts to resolve the issues raised by the tenant, it became evident that she is orchestrating a classic building hijack.
The tenant took the matter to the Rental Tribunal, the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements, the Gauteng Legislator, and the City of Johannesburg. Each institution could not find any substance to the claims raised by the tenant and told her that must pay her rent. The Department of Housing did a full investigation and produced a report that was circulated to all tenants at El Kero. Nevertheless, the tenant still refused to pay rent and Madulammoho had no option but to apply for an eviction order from the High Court.
The Judge granted an order to evict this tenant on 22 October 2011. The tenant filed an application for rescission just days before the actual eviction could take place (a well-known delay strategy). This application was heard in the High Court in February 2011. Unfortunately, as of day, we still have not received judgment by the Judge.
The tenant then instigated a full rent boycott with the other tenants. She told the other tenants that the court cannot evict her or anyone else because the building does not belong to Madulammoho and, consequently, they should not pay rent in a government building. A large group of tenants believed her, even though we had distributed the report compiled by the Department of Housing.
The evidence of a full rental boycott can be seen in the following:
Only five occupiers of the property were in arrears with their rental obligations in March 2012. Of these, only one was significantly in arrears. In April 2012 there were still five and in May 2012 there were eight in arrears, one of which in a very small amount. By June 2012 this number had risen to eleven, excluding three who owned in very small amounts. By July 2012 this number had risen to sixteen in arrears and by August 2012 the number had risen to twenty-one. By September 2012 it had risen to thirty-two and by October 2012 the number of people in arrears had exceeded forty. By 13 November 2012 the number of people in arrears jumped significantly to over sixty people, excluding those who owed less than R100.00.
These tenants told staff that they would have complete control of the building by December.
MHA had no choice but to apply for an eviction order from the High Court on an urgent basis. Judge Malindi ordered that 45 tenants by evicted on 8 January 2013. On 7 January the tenants filed a motion to appeal (again a tactic to delay). The motion to appeal was heard on 31 January and dismissed by the Judge.
On 1 February the Sheriff of the Court evicted 39 units (6 units were taken off the list because they made full payment in December 2012). MHA is currently seeking another eviction order for 15 tenants who are also part of the rent boycott.
It must be noted that Mudulammoho has an anti-eviction policy and only evict if there is no other option for resolving issues.