Update from the Valley View Struggle (1 December 2011) | Abahlali baseMjondolo
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Update from the Valley View Struggle (1 December 2011)

HillarySOHCO

Update from the Valley View Struggle

1 December 2011–Today, the flats of the 77 families evicted from the Valley
View Flats in Hillary by the Social Housing Company (SOHCO) were being given to
new tenants. However, the evicted tenants picketed against the introduction of
new tenants in their flats. The evicted residents protested by holding a
picket line in front of their flats. They appealed to a sense of solidarity
from the new tenants and they made it very clear that crossing a picket line
and moving into the home of an evicted person is no different to crossing a
picket line and scabbing at a strike.

We call upon all people seeking to find housing in Valley View to boycott SOHCO
while the previous tenants fight their way back to their homes. These new
tenants will certainly become victims of SOHCO and no one should trust them
with their families’ homes. New tenants should be warned that when SOHCO wants
you to come in, they treat you like a king, but after a few months of taking
your money, they begin to increase your rent without cause or explanation. We
advise all new tenants to go to SOHCO to claim their rental deposits back
rather than cross the picket line and betray the people who have already been
evicted.

Although this was meant to be a protest of peaceful resistance, police officers
from the Bellaire Police Station intimidated one of the independent newspaper
photographers and an overseas researcher there to document our struggle. The
officer threatened to confiscate and destroy both the journalist’s and the
researcher’s cameras.

The evicted residents are demanding that they be allowed to return to their
flats and they are warning that they will not give up this struggle until they
have been able to return to their homes. The evicted residents also wish to
note that SOHCO has failed to govern these flats properly and that, therefore,
the residents must be allowed to take over the governance of the flats on their
own by forming a cooperative. The private part of this so called
‘public-private partnership’ must be expelled from the project and it must
become a partnership between the state and the residents’ cooperative.

The evicted residents also wish to note that SOHCO is charging different rents
to everyone even when the size of houses and facilities are the same. The
tenants are prepared for everyone to pay the same rent, the rent that was
agreed to first, which is R850 per month (excluding lights and water) but that
they cannot afford to pay the new rent. When SOHCO was advertising these
homes, we were promised that we could rent to own. But after signing the lease
agreement, it became clear that we would be renters for life.

The evicted residents also wish to note that each citizen in South Africa that
is eligible for access to state housing gets a housing subsidy. That subsidy
usually goes towards an RDP house. In this case it went towards the
‘public-private partnership’ that built the Valley View flats and collects the
rent for the flats. But now that the 77 residents have been evicted they are
told that they are not eligible for RDP houses because they have already been
granted their subsidy. While SOHCOC is making a profit and calling itself a
‘non-profit organization’ we have been evicted and our right to housing has
been taken from us. The capitalists that have invested in SOHCO have taken our
subsidies and we are left homeless and with no other options. Valley View is
clearly no longer a public-private initiative it now only follows market rules
where commercial profit making is more important than our families.

If there have to be further negotiations the evicted residents must be allowed
to collect their post from the flats and they must be removed from the credit
bureau black list.

The evicted residents are also requesting that the public protector investigate
SOHCO. Thuli Madonsela has won the confidence of the people and she can be
trusted to investigate SOHCO fairly.

Comrades visiting Durban for the COP 17 conference are welcome to join the
picket line at the Valley View flats in Hillary. There will be further protests
tonight and if the police are bought in to break up the picket line the evicted
residents will return their protests to the SOHCO offices.

Contact Details: Bonginkosi: 083 735 0171, Nomfundo: 082 541 0855, Ntombi: 073
580 2306