Jo'burg inner-city residents march over evictions

Police had to form a human chain on Wednesday outside the African National Congress’s (ANC) Luthuli House headquarters as protesting Johannesburg inner-city residents handed over a memorandum of their grievances.

“We demand that the ANC lobby for debt write-offs, as most debts are inherited or caused by administrators and managing agents,” the memorandum read.

“The ANC must develop a comprehensive strategy to protect the elderly and vulnerable from evictions.”

The memorandum demanded that a task team be set up to look at the evictions, intimidation and high rentals being experienced by community.

The protesters also demanded that the ANC convenes an inner-city indaba on housing-related issues before the end of January.

The residents gave the ANC 14 days to respond to their grievances.

The march began at the Joubert Park art gallery, and ended at Luthuli House.

Residents were protesting against evictions, the private security company that carried them out—the so-called Red Ants—intimidation by police and water and electricity cuts.

“For the past 10 years we have lived under threat. Different people came and claimed to be owners of buildings or flats demanding money,” said Johannesburg Inner-City Residents’ Association spokesperson Moses Ka Moyo.

He said residents had also received fake court orders.

“We demand protection from the ANC.”

A disgruntled resident, Sifiso Nkomo, said: “We pay high rentals but we live in a pigsty.
We also have rights that are being infringed upon. For the past ten years we have lived under unfavourable conditions, this must end.”

The protesters toyi-toyied and chanted liberation songs. They carried placards reading: “Leave Hillbrow Alone”, and “ANC protect our human rights”.

The First National Bank on Sauer Street closed its security gates as protesters moved towards its entrance during the march.

Accepting the memorandum, ANC head of security Bongani Zuma assured the protesters that ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe would receive their grievances.

“It’s not because you [protesters] are being disrespected. The ANC is the congress of the people. It is here to listen to you and give you platform for your grievances.

“I assure you that I will deliver this memorandum to Mantashe’s office.”—Sapa

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