Category Archives: Motala Heights AbM

Four Shacks Burn Down in Motala Heights

Monday, September 10, 2007
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Release

Four Shacks Burn Down in Motala Heights
Will Ricky Govender Allow Rebuilding?
Who do the Councillors Work For?

Four tin shacks burnt down on Sunday morning while the families were at church. The community is very grateful to the fire brigade who arrived promptly and stopped the blaze from spreading to other shacks. The four families are in urgent need of clothing, blankets, food and, once the question of whether or not they’ll be allowed to rebuild is resolved, building materials. They are currently being accommodated in the church hall.

However after the blaze PR councillor for the area, Manilall Naranjee of the IFP, come to the scene. He told residents that

• ‘The government can’t do development here because the Indians are standing for the blacks and the government wants the blacks out.’
• ‘The blacks will use the Indians to stay in the area but if they are able to stay they will throw the Indians out’
• ‘The ratepayers in this area do not want low cost houses here so the only houses built here will be private developments for rent’
• ‘Ricky Govender is the only person that will be building houses in Motala Heights’

According to Steven Govender, who was a tenant in one of the shacks that burnt down and lost all his possessions in the fire, “Naranjee is a rogue. He did the same thing to the poor Indians in Clare Estate.”

The poor residents of Motala Heights, those living in the ‘African’ shack settlement on the hill and those living in the ‘Indian’ shacks dotted around the suburb, have consistently found that both their ward councillor, Derek Dimba (ANC), and the PR councillor, Naranjee, act as if they were working for local landlord Ricky Govender who recently made death threats against Mercury journalists and has been dubbed the ‘Mugabe of Motala’ after seeking to ban the media and
drive out the poor from the area. Both councillors are known to be close to Govender and both openly tell ‘their constituents’ that ‘Govender is in charge’. Dimba behaves as though shack dwellers have no rights at all in the area. He prevented shack dwellers from attending the last Ward Committee elections on the basis that ‘you are not supposed to be here, you can’t vote here’ and, in June last year actively sought to have the ‘African’ shack settlement demolished. These evictions were opposed and on 9 August (Women’s Day) 2006 he came to the settlement with a pistol holstered to each hip and personally threatened people who were opposing the evictions. When evictions began on 28 October 2006 legal advice was sought. Residents were advised that because these evictions occurred without a court order (which is typical behaviour by the eThekwini Municipality) they were illegal. S’bu Gumede from the Municipality was quoted in the Mercury as saying that “We have adopted a zero-tolerance attitude to control the amount of informal settlements, and with the pressure of 2010, we are trying to eradicate such settlements.” But on 29 November 2006 shack dwellers in Motala Heights were granted an interdict against the Municipality preventing them from carrying out any further evictions. However on 13 December 2006 Municipal Security tried to continue with demolitions in spite of the court order. When Bheki Ngcobo tried to explain to them that their actions were illegal he was assaulted and told that “(Ricky) Govender is the Mayor here”. But they left after being threatened with arrest by the SAPS and have not been back since.

Moreover on numerous occasions people have found that approaches to the Municipality at the Pinetown Civic Centre on all sorts of matters, from the right to set up tuck shops to a refusal to be evicted or a demand for housing, have simply been told that they should take their queries to Ricky Govender as if Govender is the power to which elected authorities and their bureaucrats must defer.

The four families who lost their homes and all their possessions yesterday would like to rebuild were they have been living. Their landlord is sympathetic and his son risked his own life rushing into a burning building to look for a baby. But they have not heard from the landlord (a Mr. Govender unrelated to Ricky Govender), and have been told, on good authority, that Ricky Govender has instructed their landlord not to speak to them as he sees this as an opportunity to continue to force the poor out of Motala Heights. Moreover it is believed that if the landlord does approach the council for permission to rebuild they will, as they always do with regard to Motala Heights, simply refer the decision back to Ricky Govender. If the landlord can secure permission for them to rebuild on the same site then they will do so. If not they will build in the ‘African’ shack settlement and challenge the Municipality not to evict them. But their demand is clear: “We want the Municipality to build us all houses, Africans and Indians, on the land that they own here in Motala Heights, the land were the jondols are now.”

Three families in tin shacks adjacent to the 4 that burnt down have been left without electricity or water as they were using the connections to the houses that burnt down. They cannot afford the installation fee to have pre-paid meters installed.

Update: The three families in the adjacent shacks were told today – 12 September – that they will be given notice.

A mass meeting will be held tonight to discuss a way forward.

For comment on the fire and its aftermath, including Manilall Naranjee’s visit, please contact Steven Govender on 0796163652.

For comment on the general situation in Motala Heights please contact Louisa Motha on 0781760088 or Shamita Naidoo on 0764940965.

For pictures of the burnt shacks click here

For an electronic archive of documents and pictures related to Motala Heights click here

Highway Mail: No assistance for Motala Heights fire victims

MOTALA Heights families who lost their homes and all they owned in a fire a fortnight ago have still not had any assistance from the municipality.

And the councillor of Ward 15, Derek Dimba, denied having any knowledge of the fire and showed little concern for the families affected.

The councillor responded by saying, “I do not account to you, (referring to the paper), if you are bored and have nothing to do, don’t call me.”

He continued: “I live in Mpola and it’s far. If they don’t call I cannot throw bones to find out what is happening in the community.”

The families also said that they did not know who their councillor was and there could not contact him. When the councillor was asked how this was possible he replied: “They did not vote and they obviously don’t attend community meetings.”

The office of the speaker in KwaZulu-Natal was asked to comment on Dimba’s response. Mr. Desmond Myeza, the manager, said “Mr. Dimba was wrong to tell you to tell the people to call him first after you had notified him of the incident. We will look into it.”

The families are currently receiving help from people in different communities in the form of blankets, clothing and crockery but they still do not have a roof over their heads.