Category Archives: Vivian Attwood

Sunday Tribune: RDP housing list does not exist

For many years shack dwellers in Durban have been bullied and controlled in the name of the ‘housing list’. Activists have been shown as ‘queue jumpers’ trying to move up the list. People have been told to be patient because they are on the list and their turn will come. But for years it has been obvious that the list has been a fiction – something that doesn’t really exist but people who said this were called liars and the third force. Now, finally, after all these years of lying the politicians have admitted that there is no list.

RDP housing list does not exist


Durban – The Sunday Tribune can today reveal that the 400 000 or so people living in squatter settlements in and around Durban have no hope of getting an RDP house, because the system they subscribed to – putting their names down on a council housing allocation list – does not exist.

The ramifications of this could be far-reaching, because most people in informal settlements believe they will eventually be allocated a home after having put their names down on a “RDP housing list”.

However, eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo and the head of the city’s housing committee, Nigel Gumede, said on Friday there never was an RDP housing list – a claim the DA said was a lie.

Jethro Lefevre, ward councillor for Overport/Sydenham, where there is a huge informal settlement issue, and also the DA whip for housing, said Gumede’s assertions were nonsense.

“When council sold off rental housing stock it had absolutely nothing to do with RDP lists. There was a separate RDP housing list, and we have asked for years what has happened to it. This is a web of lies and misinformation designed to conceal who the real recipients of RDP houses have been since 1998.”

But Gumede insisted “there never were RDP housing lists for informal settlements”.
“The lists were for those who qualified for government housing. When we stopped building government houses that list was closed. Since then houses have been given to people in informal settlements on a needs basis, and also sometimes to councillors whose lives are threatened in the areas in which they live.”

When asked if thousands of shack dwellers were informed that there were no waiting lists, he said, “Of course they were told that they are not registered for RDP houses.”

Gumede said there had been misinformation for years about the existence of RDP housing lists. “These people don’t read or communicate or they would know the truth” (that there is no RDP housing), he said.

However, in seeming contradiction to his earlier statement that the RDP lists had never existed, Gumede said: “We visited those places (informal settlements) and gave each house a number, and told the residents that they had to ring-fence the community and not allow it to grow further.

“But when we went back we would find many more houses, without the official numbers we had painted on them, and then our plans to move the original settlers to a new housing project would have to be scrapped.

“Also, we would find there were people who had moved on, or didn’t need a house any more, or had died. These factors meant that housing lists were of no use and had to be scrapped.”

Gumede said the ward councillors would henceforth submit lists of the most needy to council, and these lists had to be “unanimously approved” by all the council members before they would be forwarded to welfare and other officials to conduct a needs assessment, and then to housing officials for formal handover.

Lefevre admitted that the ANC’s housing policy had “looked excellent” on paper.

“The concept could not be faulted. It involved clearing the land on which people were squatting and developing it for human settlements. People were told they would go into a transit camp for a maximum of six months, and then be moved into their new homes, after which the shacks would be demolished.

“What happened instead was wholesale corruption while the housing crisis |spiralled out of control. Last year the provincial housing department gave R3 billion to eThekwini, which should have been enough to build 15 000 houses. So far 60 percent of that amount has been spent, with only 3 000 houses to show for it. We have asked constantly where the balance of the money went,” he said.

S’bu Zikode, president of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the homeless people’s movement, said the city had politicised the housing allocation process.

“We’ve asked the city several times to have a list so that people are properly allocated. They are allocating houses according to political alliances, they prioritise people who are in the ANC,” claimed Zikode.

“There are teachers and policemen who own RDP houses and there are people who are buying RDP houses through officials,” he alleged.

Zikode said there was no transparency. “How will the city monitor fraud when they do not have a list or an allocation strategy?” he asked.

Recent Articles on Warwick Junction Eviction & Resistance

eThekwini council in trouble with the law
15 June 2009, 14:56

The eThekwini municipality has been accused of defying a court order after it locked traders out of the Early Morning Market on Monday despite the Durban High Court ruling that they can trade.

Chaos broke out when metro police officers fired rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of people who wanted to break the market gate after the municipality prevented traders without valid permits from entering.

Two traders were injured by rubber bullets and were taken to hospital.

Senior Superintendent Joyce Khuzwayo said:”The municipality has made it clear that it wants to sort out the issue of people who do not have permits. The traders then decided to adopt the ‘injury to one is injury to all’ strategy.”

The city locked out hundreds of traders after it emerged that many were trading without permits. The court at the weekend ruled that traders be granted occupation and possession of their stalls.

“As far as we know, the court stated that we should be allowed to trade but the council has sent police to shoot at us. The city is defying the court order and that is very sad,” said traders” spokesperson Roy Chetty.

Khuzwayo said the municipality was sorting out the issue of permits by arranging another venue for traders.

“Traders are being removed from the market to make way for the multi-million rand development of Warwick Junction which will include a mall,” she said.

She said it was important for the municipality to ensure that all traders had permits so that they would be provided with an alternative place to do business. – Sapa

Malls are not for the poor
7 June 2009, 08:12
Related Articles

By Vivian Attwood

Faced with the spectre of imminent eviction, the prevailing mood among the traders at the Early Morning Market is remarkably upbeat. While they freely discussed their concerns, it appeared most thought popular opinion would prevail, stalling development in the area.

“Our market is here to stay. Our market feeds us,” a banner at the market entrance read. Another, more sinister, promised: “Be prepared to remove coffins, not traders.” On a lighter note, a wit had penned: “Final notice of relocation. Council and their employees can now move into their new site. Traders will still be operating from this market.”

“We are not going anywhere,” said an elderly woman known to traders as “Mummy”.

“It’s our life at stake. We’re not going into any marquee”. (The city has erected two marquees to provide temporary shelter for the traders.)

“A mall is for rich people. We are the poors (sic),” said Vasie Pillay.

“How would the city councillors and developers feel in our position?” queried Mani Govender.

“When we tried to have a sit-in last week they used pepper spray on us. We have human rights; we are not criminals.”

The Early Morning Market, or “Squatters’ Market” as it was once known, has seen its fair share of conflict over the years.

Here is a summary of its history:

There were originally four distinct markets, the City Market (Warwick Avenue), a whites-only trading area; the “Native” Meat Market (Victoria Street); an enclosed Indian Market called the Victoria Street Market and a street market in Victoria Street known as the Squatters’ or Early Morning Market. About 153 000 Indians arrived between 1860 and 1911 to work as indentured sugarcane cutters.

By 1885 there were about 2 000 market gardeners. They began to supply local markets, but initially encountered a series of difficulties at the fresh produce market, which was run by the Durban Town Council. These included high fees and being forced to ask lower prices for their produce than their white counterparts.

In 1908 a Hindu priest, Swami Shankevanand, formed the Indian Farmers’ Association, and subsequently founded the Indian Market Committee to oversee the welfare of Indian traders.

It wasn’t long before the town council flexed its muscles again, insisting on August 1, 1910, that the traders move to a new site in Victoria Street. The farmers protested that the site was too small, and too close to the Catholic Church and “native” market. They boycotted, but the protest was soon quashed.

The town council divided the market into stalls selling fruit, vegetables, ice-cream, sweetmeats, birds and curios, and organised a street market in Victoria Street for Hindu farmers.

The traders lined both sides of the street with stalls and horse-drawn carts, leading to protests from colonialists.

In July 1930 the town allocated £15 000 for a proper enclosure for the Warwick Street traders, and the Early Morning Market, comprising 618 stalls, opened on January 31, 1934.

The Victoria Street Market was destroyed by fire in March 1973, and a temporary market was erected in November that year.

That structure was replaced in 1984 by the current Indian Market.

* This article was originally published on page 10 of The Sunday Tribune on June 07, 2009

‘This 2010 mall will starve us’

27 May 2009, 11:45
Hundreds of Early Morning Market informal traders and their employees have vowed to resist the city’s plan to remove them from the market, amid allegations that city officials have tried to bribe traders to make way for development.

During a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday, traders marched in small groups to the city hall in protest against the proposed new R400-million shopping mall development, saying it would literally starve the poor.

Streetnet International co-ordinator Pat Horn addressed the rally of traders and sympathisers who gathered at the top of Dr Pixley kaSeme (West) Street to march to the city hall to hand a memorandum of demands to deputy mayor Logie Naidoo.

However, city police stopped the march at the last minute, saying the traders’ application o stage the march had been declined.

Horn said city officials had apparently walked around the market on Monday offering vendors bribes of R1 000 and television sets if they would accept the development in an attempt to prevent the march.

The allegation has been rejected by city leaders, who said anyone with evidence should present it to city manager Michael Sutcliffe. But this did not stop the traders who gathered with banners reading “Save the market, we feed the poor”, “This 2010 mall will starve us”, “Come hail, come sun, come May, our market will stay”, and, on a more personal level, “Down with Mike Sutcliffe and Porky Naidoo”.

About 460 000 commuters travel through Warwick Junction daily, generating revenue of R1 billion annually upon which the livelihood of an estimated 7 000 to 10 000 traders depends. Traders have been given notice by the city to vacate the market premises by Sunday.

The proposed development has received wide criticism from NGOs, the KZN Institute of Architects and academics who claim the municipality has not followed legal and public processes in tendering and granting a 50-year lease to the developer Warwick Mall Consortium. Informal traders fear they will be permanently removed from the area and that the mall will direct commuters away from stalls into the mall.

“Let us take notice of tactics other countries have used, like long sit-ins, which would make it extremely difficult for the municipality to evict you under South African law if you refuse to move,” Horn said.

Roothren Moodley, Warwick Precinct Plan Stakeholders Forum chairman, said: “The Early Morning Market is here to stay for another 100 years, we must tell them clearly.”

Protesters walked in small groups to the city hall where representatives, including the chairman of the Early Morning Market Traders’ Association, Harry Ramlall, met dep-uty city manager Derek Naidoo, deputy mayor Logie Naidoo and city councillors.

After the three-and-a-half hour meeting, Ramlall said traders had achieved their goal by stalling the removal process.

Independent urban planning consultant Dr Susanna Godehart said that as far as she understood, the development was “completely illegal at this stage” as an environmental impact assessment to build on the market site had not been done.

* This article was originally published on page 3 of The Daily News on May 27, 2009

Daily News: Three die in refugee terror

The nightmare is back…The rank denialism of the state last time this happened in Durban has allowed the madness to fester….

Three die in refugee terror
‘Armed mob wanted foreigners’

January 06, 2009 Edition 2


AFRICAN refugees and asylum seekers in Durban’s city centre are living in terror after three foreign nationals died when they were forced from the sixth-floor windows of a block of flats, allegedly by members of the local community policing forum.

Other asylum seekers at the Broad Street building on Sunday evening suffered injury when the drain pipe they were climbing down to escape their attackers collapsed.

While victims say the attacks were driven by xenophobia, police deny this, saying there had been a community policing forum anti-crime drive in the area.

The men who died, two of whom were reportedly from Zimbabwe, and the third from Tanzania, had official refugee status, and were attempting to find work to support their families.


Victor Zowa, 24, of Zimbabwe died on impact. He will never see the two-week-old son his wife gave birth to in Zimbabwe, said his heartbroken brother, Raymond.

A second, as yet unnamed man, attempted to drag himself after his fall into a storeroom, away from his attackers, but died soon after rescue workers arrived.

The third man, 22-year-old Said Omari of Tanzania, died of his injuries at Addington Hospital yesterday afternoon.

Human rights activists have called for a full police investigation into the incident.

After a series of police spokesmen declined to comment on the incident, KZN police spokesman Muzi Mngomezulu finally said the attack was not being regarded as xenophobic in nature.

“It was the community policing forum of the area who were on a venture for criminal elements because people in that building are alleged to have committed robbery and house breaking,” he said.

Mngomezulu said a case of murder and attempted murder had been opened. He said no arrests had been made.

The CPF chairman for the area, who declined to provide his name, said he was unaware of the incident because he had been out of the area.

Witnesses said the armed men and women responsible for the attack were locals. They brandished bush knives and knobkieries, blew vuvuzelas and demanded that the “kwerekwere” (a derogatory term for foreigners) jump from sixth floor windows or they would push them.

Those who did not comply were flung out of smashed windows and fell to their deaths in a courtyard six floors down, witnesses said.

Businessman Omar Osman is the owner of the apartment block, known as Venture Africa, on the corner of 38 Broad Street and 5-9 Baker Street, where the xenophobic attack occurred. A former Kenyan citizen himself, he is deeply shocked by the deaths of men he referred to as “like sons to my wife and I”.

Osman’s premises are occupied by locals and foreign nationals. The building is a haven for refugees from neighbouring countries who are referred there by, among others, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Menonite Central Committee and Refugee Pastoral Care.

The eThekwini council also used the building to house displaced people during last year’s wave of xenophobia.

According to Osman, the trouble began on Saturday night, before exploding into mayhem on Sunday.

“At about 11.30pm that night, my manager contacted me to tell me that armed men had entered the dormitories and were demanding to know who was a ‘kwerekwere’. They said they were working with the police.

“When I asked officers at the Broad Street Police Station two doors down from my building to intervene, the officer on duty told me ‘they are from the forum. Don’t worry about it.’

“The police did not come, and after a while the intruders left, but they were back on Sunday, and it resulted in this terrible tragedy.”

Osman’s manager, who has requested anonymity in fear for his safety, said: “At 10.45pm the gang came back, and started beating men, women and children.

“There was a stampede, screaming, the sound of breaking glass. It was a nightmare. Everyone feared for their lives.”

The manager called Osman for help. “He said there were bodies in the courtyard, that people had been thrown from the windows,” Osman said.

Omar said he could not comprehend the motive behind the attack. “These are other Africans, refugees. They have committed no crime. They come here for shelter from the horrors they have experienced in their own countries, and this is how we treat them.”

Advocate Sherylle Dass of the Durban Refugee Service Providers Network, and Jody Kollapen, national chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission, have spoken out against Sunday’s events. Dass is counselling families of the deceased and has urged other witnesses to come forward with information.

“We strongly protest the manner in which this community forum has taken the law into its hands by assaulting, intimidating and harassing alleged foreigners who it claims has been involved in criminal activities,” she said.

“We can confirm the majority of residents in the apartment block are legally documented asylum seekers. The attack on them was totally uncalled for.”

She called on the police and National Prosecuting Authority to hasten the prosecution of the alleged offenders.

“If they do not expedite the investigation and prosecution, we believe it will escalate into further xenophobic attacks in the city,” Dass said.

Jody Kollapen said the SAHRC condemned the xenophobic attacks and the vigilantism and expected police to act if foreigners were involved in criminal activities.

“This does not give South Africans the right to take the law into their own hands. It is clear from the xenophobic attacks last year that we still have a long way to go,” he said.

“Community forums cannot take the role of policing, but they have to be accompanied and monitored by police.”