South Africa: Evicted Families in Nigel Moved to Dilapidated Church

Ten of the 35 families evicted from a building behind Home Affairs in Nigel, who spent a week sleeping in the open, have been moved by the municipality to a deserted church on the R51 Springs road. The building has no roof, doors or windows. It has no electricity or sanitation. The families relieve themselves in the veld across the road. A truck has been bringing them water, but no one has come to assess their current living conditions.

The lawyer, who they paid more than R20,000 over a year in monthly instalments to stop the eviction, appears to have disappeared.

"For a whole year each family made a contribution. Now that we need him more than ever he has disappeared," said Nomvula Makubo. He does not answer his phone and they have not seen him since 6 July.

Two families have built shacks inside the old church yard, others have each taken a section of the old building, and some have built partitions on the second floor.

"A white farmer who lives nearby told us that he was giving us two weeks to move. He said we would steal his sheep and goats," said Makubo. "We were better off in our [old] homes ... no one bothered us."

Lungile Motolo was evicted after 15 years from the previous building. She has now built a shack inside the church yard. She has two children, one with special needs. Where she lived before she would find occasional domestic work. She says her child with disability has been unwell since the move.

"If l had the money we would have moved to a rental place. But that is impossible. We do not not even have enough for food," she said.

Thabang Ngubane also built a small shack inside the church yard. He shares it with his wife, children and 88-year-old father-in-law, Stoffel Endrews. He had lived in the building for 25 years. He has no ID and has never registered for a house.

Endrews said he moved in with his children and grandchildren because he could no longer look after himself. "Little did l know we would soon be homeless," he said. "I never had an easy life. If l had a house of my own, my children would not be struggling. Neither would l."

Ward 98 councillor Tefo Patrick Motaung (ANC) said: "The office of the Gauteng Premier has asked me to look into the case ... I am going to consult with the Nigel office for human settlements and assess if any of them qualify for housing. Those who do not qualify will have to be accommodated temporarily until we can find a solution."

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