Community representatives, along with officials from the JDA, Joburg Social Housing Company and four City departments, will make up the task team.

Executive Mayor Parks TauExecutive Mayor Parks Tau has ordered an audit of all inner city buildings to establish who owns them and how much they owe the City in rates and taxes. (Photo: City of Joburg)The City of Johannesburg is to appoint a task team to look into various issues around evictions in the inner city, with a view to finding an amicable solution to the problem.

This was announced by Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau during an inner city evictions summit at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein on Monday, 9 November.

The task team will include officials from four of the City’s departments – Development Planning, Health, Housing, and Social Development and Revenue – as well as from the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco). There will be five community representatives in the team.

Problems related to sectional title housing schemes, the housing crisis in Alexandra, and related problems in Dobsonville, Jeppestown and other areas will also be addressed.

At the same time, Mayor Tau ordered an audit of all inner city buildings to establish who owns them and how much they owe the City in rates and taxes.

The announcement followed a heated debate during which residents blamed foreigners and absentee white slumlords for their woes.

The more than 200 residents who packed the auditorium demanded that the Mayor declare a moratorium on evictions, and accused certain officials in the Revenue Department of colluding with landlords to have them evicted after fraudulently selling the buildings.

Nombeko Monoali of Berea slammed the police, property owners, the Sheriff of the Court and City officials for being “corrupt”. She said the Red Ants destroyed people’s property during evictions. “There’s no justice for black people,” Monoali said. “I’m in a wheelchair and spent nine days in jail. I’m appealing to the councillors. People are suffering.”

Mayor Tau, Development Planning MMC Roslyn Greeff and Councillor Phineas Madisha cautioned against pointing fingers at foreigners and white landlords, urging residents to focus on finding solutions to the challenges with providing affordable accommodation in the city.

At the same time, those with information on collusion and corruption were urged to come forward. Mayor Tau said the City was already working with the Hawks, the country’s elite crime fighting unit, the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Police Service to investigate some of the allegations.

He added that the Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act, which obliged the City to find temporary accommodation for evictees, was also creating problems.

Every month, the City receives 300 eviction applications. At present more than 5 000 residents in the inner city and surrounding areas are facing evictions.

The city has identified 1 000 buildings to be renovated and converted into temporary accommodation for evictees, as required by the law.

The Mayor urged residents who could afford to pay for services to do so as to enable the City to help the poor.

“The City provides housing options for all,” he said. “That’s why we have to continuously update our policies to deal with the growing demand. It’s not an unreasonable demand for people to want to own property and benefit from government schemes. But the flipside of this discussion is that those who can afford to pay should do so.”