On Thursday morning, the Red Ants carried out a massive eviction at the Matroosberg building in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. The raid was allegedly caused by the tenants’ defaulting on rent payments.
Men, women and children, mostly foreign nationals, were watching helplessly the Red Ants clearing their flats and throwing their belongings out onto the street. In total 42 units were emptied out during the operation.
The evicted claimed they had never received any eviction notices. They also complained that all their requests to reduce the rent had been left unanswered.
However, according to Musa Shihambe, the Hillbrow Police Station spokesperson, the eviction notice was sent three months in advance so that the affected tenants had enough time to find a new shelter. He insisted that a court order was given for the eviction making it legal.
The tenants could only suggest that the landlords must have received the eviction notice without notifying them. They now demand to be reimbursed for the remaining days in June they paid for.
The situation for the now-homeless people was further complicated by the loss of their belongings. The Red Ants were hurling things outside randomly mixing them up and damaging some of them beyond repair.
Shihambe warned that more of such evictions were planned to take place in the near future.