“If they try to evict people, there will be bloodshed” say RDP occupiers

City of Ekurhuleni to evict about 500 families occupying houses in Nigel

By Kimberly Mutandiro

26 July 2022

Families who occupied incomplete and completed RDP houses in Mackenzieville, Nigel, face eviction by the City of Ekurhuleni. Archive photo: Kimberly Mutandiro

About 500 families occupying houses in the Mackenzieville Extension 2 housing project in Nigel could soon be out on the street. The City of Ekurhuleni has confirmed to GroundUp that it will be executing an eviction against the occupiers.

The RDP housing project was left incomplete in 2014 following contractor failures. No sanitation or electricity has been formally installed in the houses. In December 2019, Arla Park backyarders occupied the houses, which had been earmarked for residents in the greater Nigel area, including people from Snake Park informal settlement.

In July 2020, GroundUp reported that the families occupying completed and incomplete RDP houses would face eviction when lockdown ended. The City had been granted an eviction order by the Johannesburg High Court.

The occupiers argue that they will be left homeless should the eviction be carried out.

The occupation of the Mackenzieville housing project has racial undertones, as most occupiers are coloured ex-backyarders, while the legal beneficiaries are mostly black shack dwellers.

Zill Rittles of the Greater Nigel United People’s Parliament has been instrumental in the occupation. Rittles accused the City of excluding the backyarders from housing projects. She also accuses a rival group of selling about 40 of the houses and forcing occupiers out.

“We were not living in the squatter camps, but we are equally in need of houses. Our people should be left in the RDP houses. If they try to evict people there will be bloodshed,” said Rittles.

Ellister Miller, who lives in one of the occupied houses with his partner and son, said, “If they want us out, they should provide alternative accommodation. We are going to fight to remain in the houses.”

Jobo Johannes Mnguni, 80, says he expected to benefit from the Mackenzieville extension 2 project. He currently lives in a small shack without access to running water or electricity. Photo: Kimberly Mutandiro

Residents of Snake Park informal settlement believe the City has been too lenient with the occupiers.

“We are seriously thinking of taking matters into our own hands. The City continues promising to evict them but have not done so. Our people in Snake Park are suffering,” said Thebogo Secbehola, a community representative.

Jobo Johannes Mnguni, 80, said he was among the residents who expected to benefit from the Mackenzieville extension 2 project. He currently lives in a small shack without access to running water or electricity. “We are used to suffering. I’ve been told that those RDP houses were taken … Even if I wanted to go there, what difference would it make because that may not happen any time soon,” said Mnguni.

City of Ekurhuleni spokesperson Zweli Dlamini told GroundUp that Nigel police are investigating the allegation that the RDP houses are being sold.

Dlamini said the City will be implementing the eviction order it had obtained against the occupiers. He said provision of sanitation and electricity is on hold.