Cheese factory has to secure its property or risk losing it

EbuMnandini residents interdicted from occupying Cremona land until September

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Photo of people at court
About 60 residents of EbuMnandini, an informal settlement in the west of Johannesburg, were at the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday to hear the outcome of an attempt to block their recent land occupation. Photo: Zoë Postman

An interim interdict granted to Cremona Cheese Factory on Tuesday was extended by four months on Friday morning. The interdict prevents residents of EbuMnandini, an informal settlement in Tshepisong in the west of Johannesburg, from occupying vacant land near the factory.

The owner of the land, Antonio Cremona, filed for an eviction order in April and the matter was heard in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday, the representative for the occupiers, Phumlani Khulu, told Judge Willem Van der Linde that it was the first time he had seen the factory’s title deeds in court. Judge Van der Linde then granted an interim interdict to the factory valid until Friday morning to allow the residents to study the factory’s title deeds.

On Friday morning, the judge extended the interim interdict to 10 September 2018.

Van der Linde said he extended the interdict because he had to protect the privately owned land. But he said the issues of crime and safety on the plot raised by the residents had to be addressed.

He said he wanted to ensure that the factory follows through on its promise to develop the land. “The applicant [the factory] has applied for a rezoning of portion 64 for housing and a shopping centre … When this occurs, the property will be developed for the benefit of all,” he said.

He also said the factory promised to alert the police to the crime occurring on the land.

But some of the residents said they did not want the development because it did not serve the community’s housing needs.

Calvin Molefe has lived in EbuMnandini for 18 years. He is currently sharing a backyard with seven other shacks. He said he pays about R500 per month for rent and he is unemployed.

“I can’t even afford to buy food to eat yet I must pay rent every month. That’s why I have to move there … We can’t listen to the courts because they don’t understand our pain,” Molefe said.

Another resident Mashudu Nethekweta said she depends on social grants for two of her children. She said she is unemployed and cannot afford to pay rent.

“I’m not happy about this court order because we have to wait until September to get our houses. If it was possible, I would move onto that land tomorrow because I need it desperately,” said Nethekweta.

Khulu said the residents will have a community meeting on Saturday to decide the way forward.

TOPICS:  Housing

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