The Mirror: Evicted for R72.96

The Mirror

17 October 2007

Evicted for R72.96

Buyi Maphumulo

A woman who was evicted from a council house in 2006 over a R72.96 debt is triumphant after the Pietermaritzburg High Court reversed the eviction order.

Fikile Cryer fought a year-long court battle against the Musunduzi Housing Association (MHA) which administers council housing on behalf of the Msunduzi Municipality. Cryer told the Mirror, at the time of her eviction, that she was being forced from her home because of R72.96 that the MHA said she owed.

She paid in the R72.96, but said that the MHA went ahead and got an eviction order against her.

Through her lawyer, Cryer made an appeal to the Pietermaritzburg High Court. According to the court papers, the judge considered new evidence ansd affidavits that were submitted by her lawyer and ordered that the judgement made on 3 October 2006, to evict Cryer be rescinded, and that MHA pay the costs of the application.

“I don’t know anyone who was unfairly evicted by MHA who has had this much success. We are not wealthy people yet they try to rob us of what little we have.

“The MHA comes up with amounts it says we owe so that it can have us evicted and put people who it chooses in the houses”, said Cryer.

Cryer says that since the eviction order has been overturned, the MHA should have given her the keys to the house at 4 Magazine Road in Prestbury, but it has refused to hand over the keys to her lawyer and tenants are still living there.

Since the eviction, Cryer has been living in a neighbour’s back room and says she knows that MHA are going to make it difficult for her to occupy the house again.

“I am still going to fight.”

Prestbury residence committee chairperson Denis Jantjies said ever since MHA took over the administration of housing people have suffered.

“In the past, if a person owed money to the municipality, an arrangement could be made to settle what was owed. Now the MHA handles residents as if they earn thousands of rands. We are not happy with the way things are done and we are going to appeal to the municipality to take over the administration of the houses again”, said Jantjies.

It is not only the residents who are unhappy with the MHA.

The Msunduzi Municipality has been at loggerheads with the association over its refusal to submit financial statements and be accountable to the municipality because the MHA is part of the municipality.

The municipality has even frozen a R600 000 annual grant to the MHA since it claims to be a sole entity and does not allow representatives of the Msunduzi Municipality to sit on the board of directors.

Councillor Pops Chetty said the municipality has met with the MHA and a committee is working on getting a financial audit to determine whether municipality will take back control or make better working arrangements with MHA.

“We have received many complaints on the administration of municipal houses. The MHA has become a law unto itself and this must come to a stop”, said Chetty.

MHA CEO Judy Vather refrained from answering questions to do with the court case because the association’s attorneys are still awaiting further advice. However she did confirm that the tenants at 4 Magazine Road have not been instructed to vacate the premises.