They are fighting for the right to own the public homes, rather than being tenants “forever”.
George Xaba and his Emalahleni Housing Company have now been reported to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Also Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been asked to look into the matter.
The scores of Dingindoda residents this week drove all the way to Union Building in order submit a memorandum of demand to Ramaphosa’s office.
They tell the head of state that they are “poor, working class people” and are living in units that were “hijacked” by Xaba’s Emalahleni Housing Company soon after its construction in the early 2000s.
The 1, 300 Tasbet Park units, known as uThingo Park and nicknamed Dingindoda, are a subject of court contention between businessman Themba Sgudla and Xaba.
Sgudla wants the residents to no longer pay rent – instead he wants them to pay money into his account towards a rent-to-buy arrangement and the residents agree.
But Xaba and the Mpumalanga provincial government are saying that cannot happen – the homes were built with public money and were meant to accommodate immigrant workers on a low rental cost arrangement like hostels.
Xaba and the residents are on each other’s throats and letters of evictions have been sent to the residents after some ceased paying rent in September 2018 – told by Sgudla to do so.
In the memorandum, the residents demand that the President intervenes and stops Xaba from “illegally evicting” them.
They also want the President to make the rent-to-buy arrangement possible after the Mpumalanga authorities opposed it, saying they have been staying in the public homes for 16 years and now find themselves “renting forever”.
“This project was also meant to assist the poor working class of eMalahleni to have an option to rent to buy for a period of 15 years and not to rent forever,” the memorandum, signed by residents’ representatives Nelville Maseko, Candy Ganyane and Phumzile Sibiya.
Xaba has secured court orders to get the residents who refuse to pay rent evicted from the area but the residents want Ramaphosa to intervene, saying the reason they do not pay rent is because they want Xaba to come answer “questions concerning the maintenance and allegation of corruption”.
They also want Ramaphosa to help get the homes transferred into the hands of the eMalahleni municipality and no longer in Xaba’s hands saying it was “unconstitutional for [his] Emalahleni Housing Company to continue collecting rent from the residents while there is still a land dispute in the court of law”.
They say the homes are in the hands of an “individual for a purpose of self-enrichment”.
“[He is] trying very hard to secure the land of government in order to privatise subsidised government apartments for a purpose of looting from the working class and the poor people of eMalahleni. We have requested the Public Protector to investigate the allegations of transferring the land of government illegally,” the memorandum reads in part.
Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman Khusela Diko didn’t answer SMSed questions this week.
(edited by MLM)
Send tip-offs to [email protected]