Johannesburg - Every time Ntombi Mqedlana hears the sound of heavy-duty vehicles thundering through the neighbourhood, she peeks through the window, afraid that it could be bulldozers moving into her yard to demolish her house.
Her home is among those in line for demolition.
Ntombi Mqedlana and her children, Ntando, 2, and Sabelo, 10, outside her house in Lenasia Extension 13. The perimeter wall was demolished by the Gauteng Housing Department, but she has refused to vacate her home. Picture: Matthews Baloy. Credit: INLSA
On Thursday, she locked herself and her two children into her four-room house in Lenasia Extension 13 and dared anyone to “kill us” as a bulldozer tore down her perimeter wall. It was her heart-rending wailing that saved her house from total destruction.
On Tuesday, Mqedlana, 35, was still edgy. Not even the temporary reprieve that the affected residents had got after the Johannesburg High Court issued an interdict on Monday halting the demolitions appeared to have comforted her. She now hopes for divine intervention.
“I just hope that God will hear my prayers. He will provide and lead the way,” she said.
Like other affected residents, Mqedlana said she did not suspect there was anything amiss with the paperwork she signed when she bought the piece of land on which she built her house in 2010. The papers, she said, bore the City of Joburg’s letterhead and stamp.
She claimed that she had spent R25 000 for the site, which included a shack, and more than R200 000 on construction costs.
All of the expenditure, she said, had come from the compensation she had received from the Road Accident Fund after she suffered serious injuries in an accident.
“I was glad that I finally had shelter because it is the first thing you want and can be proud of. I grew up sleeping on the floor in a family cramped in a three-room house and I was proud that I gave my children decent shelter. But what I built in more than a year, they want to demolish in a few minutes. It’s painful,” Mqedlana said.
She admitted that she was accessing electricity through illegal connections, but showed The Star a water meter she claimed had been installed by Johannesburg Water officials.
“It’s the educated people who do crime because they are the ones who think they know the law. They use the ordinary people like us to hide their corruption,” Mqedlana said in reference to Housing Department officials.
According to Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, a former developer for the Department of Housing, Durban Baloyi, and Sifiso “Handsome” Ditau, a City of Joburg official, are among seven suspects implicated in the illicit sale of land.