PHOTO ESSAY | JOHANNESBURG 

Evictions turn violent in Newtown

The legality of the action initiated by Prasa under dispute in court

Photo of men in red uniforms
Red Ants carrying out the eviction at the Bekezela informal settlement in Newtown. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee
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Update: Late on Friday, 2 June, the Gauteng High Court set aside Prasa’s Writ of Ejection, suspending the eviction. Justice Carlese ordered that insofar as the eviction had been carried out already, evictees were to be reinstated.

Hundreds of people from the Bekezela informal settlement in Newtown have been forced onto the streets after the Red Ant Security Relocation and Eviction Services (Red Ants) evicted them from their homes.

Residents say shortly after 8am, men carrying out the eviction descended on the informal settlement and began throwing people and their goods onto the street.

By mid-morning, Carr Street was filled with the household belongings of the residents.

Thando Hlatshwayo had just got ready to leave for work when he claims he was beaten and forced off the property without having the time to collect any of his documents or possessions.

“These people did not provide us with any warning. They just come with violence in the morning and chucked us out of our homes,” said Hlatshwayo.

Residents staged a protest. Rubber bullets were fired at them. A man whose car was stoned crashed into another vehicle.

Residents claim members of the Red Ants took their valuables, cash and cell phones.

After numerous complaints to the police, members of the Metro police searched the vehicles transporting the Red Ants and found various stolen items hidden in bags under the trucks. The items were confiscated, but no arrests were made.

The City of Johannesburg has gone to court to stop the eviction which was initiated by Prasa.

When GroundUp left the scene, people were still looking for their household items on the street. Many were unsure as to where they will sleep tonight.

Red ants carrying out the eviction at the Bekezela informal settlement in Newtown
Damage left by the Red Ants to the shacks of Bekezela informal settlement
Rethabile Tlaile, a migrant from Lesotho, feeds her seven-month-old baby on the side of the road after she was evicted. In the bag behind her are all the possessions she managed to salvage
Nelisiwe Simelane holds 11-month-old baby Zenande as she sits with some of the contents of her home on Carr Street after she was evicted
Residents attempt to find some of their belongings which were dumped in the street by the Red Ants
A woman searches for her belongings 
Thabani Mahlobo, who makes a living looking in rubbish bins for recyclable materials, tries to find his ID document. He returned home from work to find his residence trashed and contents missing
A resident with his cat which was killed during the evictions. 
Metro Police find items which were stolen from the residents on the trucks used by the Red Ants
Metro Police gather stolen goods recovered from the Red Ants 

Evicted residents on the street 

 

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