Squatters vow to stay put

Scottsdene residents refuse to leave the sidewalk in front of Calgro M3 Consortium flats.

The developer that won a court case against hundreds of Scottsdene residents -evicted after illegally occupying flats it built – says the rioting that followed the court ruling cost it millions of rand.

About 500 Scottsdene backyarders – men, women and children – moved into the Sunset Village flats in Melody Street on Wednesday March 28.

The developer, Calgro M3 Consortium, had them evicted on Thursday March 29.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s Advocate Winston Erasmus decided to help the evictees and filed an urgent appeal on their behalf after a video of the eviction was sent to him by a resident.

On Monday May 14, the court confirmed an interim eviction order to a final order in favour of Calgro M3 Consortium. (“Protests flares at flats,” Northern News, May 17).

Angry with the outcome of the case, more than 200 evictees burnt tyres and threw stones in Melody Street on Monday and Tuesday May 14 and 15, and people could not enter roads leading to the entrance of the Calgro M3 Consortium flats.

Wayne Williams, group executive director at Calgro M3 Consortium, said the company had suffered heavy losses and was concerned about their legal tenants who had recently moved into the flats.

“The tenants living in the flats fear for their lives as they are constantly under threat and live in an unstable environment, which had led to having a new security company appointed to the area on May 20,” he said.

According to Mr Williams, the company is still counting the cost of the damage, although he estimated it to be about R30 million for vandalism of the flats, including windows smashed by stones; theft of stock; burning of the stockyard and security measures the firm has taken.

The evictees had invaded the flats, contravening the court order. He said the company had grounds for claims against various individuals, but it had not made a final decision on what its next move would be.

“We, in all probability, will pursue claims against those that have been identified and those that we can identify in future. The persons who caused the damage and arranged for the invasion to take place should be held accountable, as leaving these matters unchallenged could lead to such lawlessness again in the future.”

The legal representative for Scottsdene residents said he would only speak to Northern News on condition his name wasn’t published.

“I am awaiting the judgment to be sent to me. It would be studied, and then we would be appealing it,” he said.

Meanwhile some 200-odd protesters, like Melony Jacobs, continue living on the pavement in Melody Street.

“The residents refuse to move from the area unless they are given proper houses,” said Ms Jacobs. “But they have calmed down and are not protesting. They are awaiting their homes.”

Dennis Taaibosch, a member of the Oostenburg Social Development Forum, which represented the residents in court last week, said a meeting with the residents would be held on Tuesday May 22.

He did not respond to further questions sent to him by the time this edition went to print.