The tenants are still on the battle started late last year by Themba Sgudla inciting them not to pay rent – instead the public homes should belong to them on a “rent-to-buy” basis.
The police in eMalahleni are probing the violence captured on a video clip last week in which a tenant is beaten up badly by guards at the Dingindoda rental settlement.
The tensions between tenants and the guards may have been escalated by an incident a two weeks ago where two security guards at the complex were shot by an unknown person while on duty. They are currently recovering in hospital.
Now the police are investigating a case of arson, attempted murder, public violence, malicious damage to properties, trespassing and assault after the guards also revenged the shooting of their colleagues – torching down a tenant’s car and causing the tenants to go amok.
The Dingindoda rental settlement in the eMalahleni area was built by government more than 15 years ago to accommodate the gap market of people who earn too little to qualify for a bond but also don’t qualify for RDPs.
It consists of 1, 300 units.
Since September 2018 the tenants have been refusing to pay rent to the landlord of the non-profit company, the EMalahleni Housing Company, tasked by government to collect rent and maintain the property.
The Emalahleni Housing Company led by George Xaba is taking the tenants to court but the tenants say they are going nowhere until a high Court judgement late this year is able to solve the issue, whether the tenants should take ownership of the public homes or “rent forever”.
Here, Xaba and the tenants clash violently and the rental area is now a warzone and militarised.
Police spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said a group of tenants staged a protest at the Tasbet Park rental complex and then clashed with Xaba’s guards.
He said the tenant were burning tyres “when the guards reportedly moved in”.
“Information at police disposal suggest that a member of the community allegedly wanted to disarm a Security Guard of his firearm, leading to a squabble whereupon his (Guard) colleagues came to his assistance and in the process administered excessive force on the individual,” Hlathi said in a statement.
“The victim is seen on the video being pressed down and beaten up by the guards, including with firearm butts on his upper body”.
The man in the victim had opened a case with the cops in the area. He said he didn’t do anything to deserve to be humiliated and injured like that.
Hlathi said the assault case was opened by the victim on Friday 5 Jul this week soon after being beaten up by the guards.
He said while as police they appreciate the role played by guards in the fight against crime but the use of excessive force is unacceptable.
He said this “is punishable by law” and not even the police “are allowed to use disproportionate force under any circumstance”.
“On the same note, the police management cautioned security companies to contact the police should there be public disturbances caused by the community because the police are trained to deal with such circumstances,” said Hlathi.
He added 3 suspects were arrested and they will appear at the eMalahleni Magistrates Court on Monday 08 July charged with assault.
(edited by MLM)
Send tip-offs to [email protected]