Category Archives: red ants

GroundUp: Red Ants accused of firing rubber bullets

GroundUp

Red Ants accused of firing rubber bullets

Residents also claim their belongings were stolen during evictions


Photo of people sitting in the open
Residents sit with their belongings after being evicted by the Red Ants. Photo: Andrew Bennie
By

 

On Tuesday, the Red Ant Security Relocation and Eviction Services (commonly known as the Red Ants) evicted shack dwellers on the border between Ivory Park and Tembisa township. Residents once again accused the Red Ants of violence and theft of their cellphones and cash.  Continue reading

GroundUp: Man dies in raid by Red Ants

Man dies in raid by Red Ants

Accusations of theft and assault against eviction squad in Ivory Park

Photo of cleared shacks

Scorched earth after the violent evictions at Ivory Park. Photo: Nyoni Mazibuko
By and , GroundUp

 

On Monday 22 May, the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) and the Red Ant Security Relocation and Eviction Services (commonly referred to as the Red Ants) arrived to demolish a few hundred new homes erected on a piece of land dividing Ward 133 of Ivory Park and Tembisa townships.

Continue reading

GroundUp: Evictions turn violent in Newtown

By , GroundUp 
Update: Late on Friday, 2 June, the Gauteng High Court set aside Prasa’s Writ of Ejection, suspending the eviction. Justice Carlese ordered that insofar as the eviction had been carried out already, evictees were to be reinstated.

Hundreds of people from the Bekezela informal settlement in Newtown have been forced onto the streets after the Red Ant Security Relocation and Eviction Services (Red Ants) evicted them from their homes.

Residents say shortly after 8am, men carrying out the eviction descended on the informal settlement and began throwing people and their goods onto the street.  Continue reading

Daily Maverick: Shack flames highlight Makause’s deadly combo of lies and local politics

http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-10-18-shack-flames-highlight-makauses-deadly-combo-of-lies-and-local-politics

Shack flames highlight Makause’s deadly combo of lies and local politics

If you thought the road to Mangaung was paved with obfuscation and complexity, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Dig into a local municipality and you’ll find the politics there just as confounding. If not more so. By MANDY DE WAAL.

This is a story of three protagonists – all with divergent versions of what happened. First up is General Alfred Moyo, who is unemployed and lives in Makause, an informal settlement in Primrose, a suburb of Germiston on Gauteng’s East Rand. He’s an activist and, from what this journalist can see (admittedly after just two visits to Makause), he’s fairly highly regarded in the community because he helps people stand up to power and he fixes problems. Makause is a socialist and well-versed in issues of constitutional and land rights, which doesn’t make him popular with the authorities in the area.

Tania Lynette Campbell is the councillor for ward 21 (Primrose) which belongs (politically) to the DA. Campbell took the ward in both the 2006 and 2011 elections and, judging by the election results, it was a good race in an ANC-owned metro.

The other character in this drama is Aubrey Mokgosi, who’s the director of Human Settlements Property & Institutional Support in the Department: Human Settlements in the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Council.

The story goes like this. On Saturday 13 October 2012, a woman allegedly commited suicide by taking petrol from a generator, pouring it over herself and setting herself alight after her man walked out on her. Makause is an incredibly dense informal settlement; the shacks are wedged well up against each other, and for the most part made of highly flammable materials. Within a short space of time, 18 shacks were consumed.

On Monday 15 October, after many of the 18 families slept out in the rain, Daily Maverick heard about the story from Moyo, the activist. One of the first calls was, of course, to Campbell, the ward councillor, to find out what was going on. Campbell was unaware of the fire in the informal settlement.

“I am surprised I haven’t been notified, because the community development worker has not contacted me. She normally phones me. I haven’t been notified whatsoever,” Campbell said.

“I will have to follow up, I don’t even have knowledge of that whatsoever,” she added.

The community development worker referred to by Campbell, Moyo alleges, doesn’t even live in Makause, but stays some 30km away near Vosloosrus. Community development workers, or CDWs, are an invention of the Mbeki era and, during his tenure as president, The Aloof One said these “multi-skilled community development workers’’ would be government’s direct link to communities. The idea was to “bring government nearer to people and to enable it to respond to community needs”, as expressed at the time.

Ekurhuleni’s Human Settlement man, Aubrey Mokgosi, heard of the incident late on Sunday night, and on Monday morning got the wheels of bureaucracy churning. He effected a survey of the site, and got a quote for disaster relief management from the local government’s official supplier, the Red Ants. When the official supplier was still not on site on Tuesday 16 October, after families had spent four nights out in the rain, he put in the official phone calls to give bureaucracy a little shove.

The Makause shack dwellers affected by the fire did, however, received one common or garden Pep Stores-type blanket per familial unit, and a fair-sized bag of mealie meal. Mokgosi got a quote for R93,879,00 from the Red Ants to supply building materials, reconstruct the shacks and to provide food parcels and blankets.

By Wednesday morning the hammers were hammering, but the materials being used to rebuild the shacks weren’t exactly new. The Red Ants, by Mokgosi’s own admission, are Ekurhuleni’s “official service provider appointed through council supply chain management policy. They both assist council to demolish, relocated (sic), construct shacks as well as to monitor land invasion as and when requested,” Mokgosi wrote in response to the Daily Maverick’s questions.

The next question Daily Maverick asked was whether it was true that “[i]n this instance the Red Ants demolished shacks in a nearby area, and used that material to rebuild the shacks in Makause.” Mokgosi’s response was a challenge to the Daily Maverick to prove the allegation, which was made by the local community.

He added: “Red Ants are allowed to reconstruct shacks with used material.”

Nonetheless, it is not difficult to raise ethical queries around a supplier that’s ruthlessly evicting people, knocking down shacks and carting off the building materials. Who then restores shacks or builds shacks, and can use “recycled” material. But then, Google the word Ekurhuleni and you’ll hit a number of links claiming ethics aren’t enshrined on the metro’s mantle.

Furthermore, members of the Red Ants where arrested for theft late last year during evictions in Germiston for-theft and were alleged to have attacked residents with crow bars.

But let’s get back to why Campbell, the ward councillor for Makause, was the last to know about the fire. Moyo’s story is that this is because she (together with the ANC-led metro) wants to evict people off Makause so that a mall can be built on the site.

“The last time Tania was in Makause was when she came to assert her working relationship with a mob group who endorse and support the relocation of the community. But this land can’t be developed because there’s a legal case,” says Moyo. “She is not even aware of the litigation, nor is she in possession of all the documents in this regard. She knows nothing. The ANC wants her to push for the evictions to go through, so people will see they are evicted by the DA, that it was her ward, the DA that evicted them.”

In her response, Campbell says: “Every month I hold a ward committee meeting, on which there are two representatives from Makauwse (sic). They regularly update me on this area of the ward and highlight any problems that residents in the informal settlement experience.”

Campbell says she visited the informal settlement in June, July and August. “There are also regular meetings with the Customer Care Centre Officials, myself and leaders of the community. Obviously I am kept abreast of any volatile situations that may arise by the EMPD (Ekurhuleni Metro police department) and Primrose SAPS.”

“On 17 April, before the State of the City address by the Mayor, the DA Caucus leader, Shelley Loe, and I visited residents in Makause so that Loe could tell the Mayor exactly what residents in the worst affected informal settlements wanted to see happen in their community this year. These concerns were related in detail in Loe’s speech to the Mayor later that month,” Campbell says.

The DA ward councillor says Moyo is “a leader who was banished” from Makause. Moyo says that Campbell’s view has been tainted by the ANC and the police, both of whom don’t look very kindly on him because he’s non-partisan and won’t support either party.

“We are a non-political structure, but the DA has turned against us. The ANC has turned against us. It is because we refused to partner or be inspired by them. We refused to work with either,” explains Moyo, who is part of the Makause Community Development Forum (MDF) which is the organisation opposing the eviction of people at the informal settlement.

“The ANC says [the] MDF is working with the DA. But the DA says the MDF is working for the ANC. But both the ANC and DA are supporting the evictions of our community. These allegations are being used to divide and confuse the community,” he says, adding: “We are resisting so we are being labelled, and they want us to be overthrown and not to be supported by the community.”

Campbell and Mokgosi respond individually to these allegations of in-fighting between the DA and ANC, but the answer’s remarkably similar. They both claim that there’s no such thing as political in-fighting in Germiston.

Moyo has been threatened by the police, meanwhile, who have locked his community offices. The threat is that if he doesn’t desist from “running to the media” or making allegations of police brutality against the SAPS, Makause will be another Marikana. (Read DM’s story: Police to people of Makause: ‘March and there’ll be another Marikana’.)

Moyo and members of the community will be marching to the Germiston police station on Thursday 18 October at 12h00 after weeks of trying to get approval for this march. Meanwhile, Campbell is requisitioning reports from all and sundry to get to the bottom of why she wasn’t informed of the fire and why the emergency response from the municipality was so inadequate. Mokgosi’s waiting for Daily Maverick to prove community allegations against the Red Ants, and requisitioning a further quote from them because there was another fire.

And Moyo? Well, he’s sorting out the march, trying to get the media there so no one gets hurt. Mostly he’s phoning aid organisations to bring blankets, clothes and food to supplement the appalling municipal response, so that another lot of families won’t be left out in the rain and cold.

So, dear reader, you tell us who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys. Who’s telling the gospel and who’s telling lies. Whatever your answer, the reality is that in Makause politics, like greater South African affairs of state, the truth is exceedingly hard to find.

M&G: Jo’burg sends in Red Ants in defiance of ConCourt

http://mg.co.za/article/2012-01-18-joburg-sends-in-red-ants-defiance-of-concourt

Jo’burg sends in Red Ants in defiance of ConCourt

Farnaaz Parker

Illegal occupiers of private properties are still being evicted without the promise of alternative accommodation despite a landmark Constitutional Court decision that holds municipalities responsible for ensuring they are not left on the streets.

In December last year, the Constitutional Court ruled that when the unlawful occupiers of a private property are evicted, the city is obliged to provide temporary emergency accommodation.

Despite the ruling made in the so-called Blue Moonlight case, residents of a the “New Doornfontein” Chambers building in Van Bleek Street, Johannesburg, on Wednesday found themselves out on the street with no prospect of alternative accommodation.

About 100 people were left standing in the street, holding onto the few belongings they’d managed to grab during an eviction allegedly carried out by the Red Ants.

Osmond Mngomezulu, a lawyer for the Socio-Economic Rights Institute, said that as a result of the Blue Moonlight case, there is an obligation on the city to provide alternative accommodation to those evicted. “It applies to the poorest of the poor, those who would become homeless if evicted,” he said.

That seems to be the case with many of the people evicted from the building on Wednesday yet it is unclear why the city did not come forward to help the residents.

Tentative agreement

Renney Plit, chief operating officer of Afhco, the company which owned the building — referred to as both Platinum Mile and “New Doornfontein” Chambers — said the eviction came after a six-year legal battle.

Court documents show that the eviction was approved by the high court in August last year. There was a tentative agreement with residents that they would leave by December, he said, and some of the blind residents, who were living in the building, were helped with finding alternative accommodation. But others refused to move and, according to Plit, notices were posted informing residents of the impending eviction, which was carried out on Wednesday morning on the orders of the sheriff of the court.

Some of the people evicted told the Mail & Guardian they knew the eviction was pending, while others claim they were never informed about it.

Oteka Khuzwayo, one of the people evicted from the building, said he heard about the eviction by happenstance. “Around 4 o’clock I heard someone say they saw Red Ants coming into the flat [then] around six o’clock they just kicked in our door and entered. We didn’t even get a chance to take our property. I just took the clothes I am wearing, my son and my wife. My other things, I left inside,” he said.

Khuzwayo said he had been living in the building for over 10 years. In addition to his possessions, he also lost his money and his identity documents, a complaint echoed by others who had been evicted.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has done work providing healthcare to residents in many of the city’s hijacked buildings, was on the scene following the eviction. The organisation said it would provide medical assistance to those who needed it and distribute blankets to the residents, many of whom spent the night on the street.

‘Inhumane’

Jens Pederson, project coordinator for MSF in Johannesburg, said putting vulnerable people on the street was inhumane. Among the displaced were children and people with chronic conditions such as TB, asthma and hypertension.

“We are concerned when people are abruptly evicted without the opportunity to remove their belongings, which includes medications,” he said. “There are people with chronic conditions who have now lost their medication.”

Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon, a researcher with the African Centre for Migration and Society, who has done research into the many hijacked buildings in the city centre, said it’s likely that many of the people evicted on Wednesday would simply move into other illegal buildings. “The cycle will just continue,” he said.

“The reason people are staying in buildings like this is because they can’t afford formal accommodation. Many of them would move into formal accommodation if it was affordable,” he said.

Wilhelm-Solomon said there’s a chronic lack of affordable accommodation in the inner city for the “lowest rung” of people in the city, those working in the informal economy or begging.

“Even in affordable housing, the basic minimum you could [pay for] a very simple room in a warehouse in this area is around R1 000 and that’s more than many families can afford,” he said.

“There really needs to be affordable, formal accommodation at a lower cost which may take government subsidies. These are complex issues that take a long time [to solve].”

The City of Johannesburg could not be reached for comment by the time this story was published.