Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

"Gangster Landlord Continues Campaign of Intimidation" Abahlali baseMjondolo, May 13, 2008.

South Africa - The community of Motala Heights, set on the edge of Pinetown between the factories and the hill that runs up to Kloof, dates back to the early years of the last century and has a rich history. For the last three years it has been under sustained and violent attack from a local gangster businessman who seems to be able to direct the local state, including the police and the Municipality's Housing Department, at will.

The community is now made up of a wealthy suburb with the big, new mostly face brick houses of the rich in the centre. Behind them are hidden the old tin houses of the poor families and, amongst the gumtrees up on the hill leading up to Kloof, a shack settlement. For some time local businessman and known gangster Ricky Govender has been buying up land and using intimidatory tactics to illegally evict the poor. His attempts to illegally drive out the mostly Indian families from the tin houses, most of whom were born and have lived their whole lives in the community, dates back to at least 2005. He has also been directly implicated in the violent and illegal attempts by the eThekwini Municipality to evict the mostly African shack dwellers which date back to 2006.

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