Foreigners won't be booted from Alexandra homes

Foreign nationals would not be evicted from their Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, the Alexandra Bonafides Movement (AB) said on Saturday.

“We will allow the police to investigate the list of the houses we have seen being vacated by foreign nationals and we will take it from there,” the movement’s founder Duma Kulashe said.

He said about 700 RDP stands were being investigated.

Foreign nationals living in RDP houses in Alexandra were warned to vacate their homes by the end of the week.

The movement put up notices which read: “You are violating our rights to own our RDP houses.”

Another notice read, “We demand that you vacate at your own free will without being pushed like animals or aliens”.

Prompting anarchy
Gauteng Local Government and Housing MEC Humphrey Memes condemned the notices saying they promoted violence and anarchy.

Earlier this week foreign residents were intimidated by the AB—a resident’s group accusing foreigners of taking part in corrupt practices to secure RDP housing.

After a meeting held in Wynberg between the AB, other Alexandra resident associations and the department, Mmemezi claimed there was no real threat to foreigners and that matters have been incorrectly represented in the press.

“The media has blown this out of proportion and distorted the facts. A lot of the people they spoke to were not even foreigners. The media must remember how to report on these things,” Mmemezi said.

HE said that although some tensions existed between local and foreign members of the Alexandra community, they were well managed and police were monitoring the situation for any possibility of xenophobia.

AB planned to hold a march on Saturday, where it was reported by EyeWitness News that foreigners will be forcibly evicted if they are found in RDP houses.

Mmemezi was dismissive of the AB’s sway in the Alexandra community, noting they “had no real authority” and said their planned march had not been sanctioned by his office or the police.

“The police have not given permission and I have not given permission—we don’t want anarchy in our communities so we won’t give permission,” he said.

March to proceed
However, the AB had acquired permission for the gathering via the courts—obtaining an interdict from the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.

“The meeting will be held—we cannot cancel it at this point. We invite the MEC and he can come and see if it is only 15 or so people. Maybe then he will realise that we’re the people that are putting housing issues in Alexandra to the top of the agenda,” said Kulashe.

Responding to claims that Gauteng housing officials were involved in corrupt deals relating to the granting of RDP housing to foreigners, Mmemezi said this only accounts for “1% to 5% of the problem”.

“It is not the case of our officials selling houses to foreigners—its South African residents selling their own RDP houses to foreigners. How can you ask the government for a house because you are poor and then sell it?” Mmemezi said.

Mmemezi offered assurances that if his department find proof of corruption in any form it will be dealt with swiftly.

“There is no evidence against the allegations of widespread corruption up until now but based on information we’ve received we have already suspended and dismissed people where necessary,” he said.

‘Go home’
Despite assurances by Mmemezi that foreigners would not become targets of xenophobic violence, Alexandra residents gathered at the meeting had other ideas.
Margaret Damaneit, an Alexandra resident since 1944 and who has been on the RDP housing waiting list since 1996, told the Mail & Guardian that she supports the AB’s calls for foreigners to be removed.

“I am proud of what the Alex Bonafides have done—they are taking the truth to the people. These foreigners must realise how lucky they are. If I want to go to Zimbabwe, [President Robert] Mugabe will chase me away. The foreigners must go home because this is our country and the MEC won’t change our minds.”

Another AB supporter, who wished to remain anonymous, said Saturday’s meeting might become confrontational as “the people are tired”.

“The youth of Alexandra are very involved in the organisation of this meeting so there is no telling what might happen and what they might do. I will be there and we will take our message to every door of an RDP house,” the source said.—Sapa, M&G

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