300 people freeze on Johannesburg streets as harsh winter bites

300 people freeze on Johannesburg streets as harsh winter bites

Johannesburg, the economic capital of South Africa, might be called the ‘city of gold’, but life is not as golden as it sounds.

This was proved this week when more than 300 people, including young children, froze – and continue to freeze – on the city’s inner streets as harsh winter conditions bite and temperatures plummet.

It is believed that these people were evicted recently from a building they were living ‘illegally’.

Jack Bloom, provincial leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) who visited these people, said this week that these residents were evicted from Number 3 Hardy Street in Marshalltown on 29 May 2013, and but have challenged the eviction in courts. “Last Friday the judge ruled in their favour, but the owner of the building has appealed so they remain locked out,” Bloom said.

“It’s very sad as they freeze in the cold, and among them there are young children. Their possessions are scattered on the pavement,” he added.

Bloom said these residents made a proposal to buy the building from the Johannesburg Metro Council for R350 000 (US$35 000), but it was mysteriously sold for a much lower amount to the new owners who then proceeded to evict them.

“I suspect that corrupt officials colluded to sell the building to the present owner,” he alleged, adding that a legal application has been made so that they can return to the building.

There are more than 3700 buildings in the Johannesburg inner city and its surrounding suburbs. But many of these buildings stand empty, and have therefore been  ‘hijacked’ by unscrupulous people posing as ‘landlords’, who illegally connect electricity and charge cheap rent to tenants.

This often prompts municipal authorities to seek eviction orders from courts to throw these residents out. In the past, these unfortunate residents have won a couple of court battles thanks to the help of legal NGOs.

Like any fast-growing African city, Johannesburg, home to about 4 million people, is facing major issues of housing and urbanisation, as African foreigners and local rural people flock to the famous city to live and seek fortunes, and in the process put a tremendous pressure on the already precarious housing situation.

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