About 27 families who occupied RPD housing units in Umlazi live in fear of eviction after they were served with a court order by eThekwini Municipality.
In a counter-application, the occupants say they decided to move into the 29 new RDP units at U-section because they feared they would be once again overlooked for housing.
They said corruption was rife and they had been "deprived" from being allocated houses. They want answers from the eThekwini Human Settlements Department and ward councillor Sindi Shange as to how houses are being allocated.
According to court papers the construction of the RDP flats began in March 2015, but just before completion in December 2017, community members close to the development occupied the units.
In its court papers, the City states: "The occupancy to the property is unlawful, without any lease agreement or legal entitlement. Despite continuous demands to vacate the property, including notices to vacate, occupants have refused to vacate the property."
The occupants filed a counter-application and an answering affidavit at the Durban High Court on 4 July opposing their eviction. They argue that the failure of the municipality to explain its housing policy and allocation criteria and to provide housing and basic services led to the occupation.
"The Municipality needs to develop a clear policy for the allocation of RDP houses. Currently, they do not have one," said Thabiso Mbhense of Legal Resources Centre, which is representing the occupants. "They [municipality] also need to produce the housing lists for when they establish developments in the areas."
Mbhense said the municipality had until 17 July to reply.
One of the occupants, Sibongile Dube, said, "When the construction began we were all in awe, and were excited we were finally next in line to get houses. We could not wait until they were completed. Then we started getting information that people were buying flats ... We approached the ward councillor and questioned her regarding these rumours as well as the allocation procedure. She had no answers for us."
"If they kick us out, we'll stay outside these houses. Where do they expect us to stay?" asked Sifiso Mthethwa, who occupies one of the units with his mother and three children.
Deputy Head of Communications for eThekwini Municipality, Mandla Nsele, said the municipality cannot respond to the allegations because the case is now in court.
Mthokozisi Chiliza, who now occupies one of the new RDP units, has a disability and struggles to walk. When his uncle kicked him out of his home he built this shack, but access was a struggle. "At times I've had to walk using my hands to leave my house," said Chiliza. Photo: Nomfundo Xolo
Anna Mdlalose, her daughter and five grandchildren, occupy one of the two-room units. "I was born here in Umlazi, U-section, and we have been promised housing developments by councillors at every election ... Up to this day, I have never lived in a home with dignity. We've peacefully occupied these units because we're homeless and deserving of this space. I come from living in a house of 37 family members. Nobody owned a bed or a room with every space in the house used as a sleeping area at night," said Mdlalose.
Another occupier, Mthokozisi Chiliza, said, "For years we've been told that each development that would take place in the community would directly benefit us. But by one councillor after the other, we would be ignored. Until we were fed up with being misled and watching other communities advanced while we were still living in shacks."