A 91-year-old pensioner has been evicted from a house she has lived in for more than a decade after it was sold for a second time to a senior ANC leader in her area. Elizabeth Ndlovu was forcefully kicked out of her home in Morgenzon outside Standerton in Mpumalanga. This was after a court clerk, Buyi Mfusi, from whom she purchased the RDP house, sold it to the acting manager of the Lekwa local municipality, Mduduzi Makhanye.
Makhanye is also an ANC branch secretary in Ward 14 in the area. Ndlovu lived in the house with her four daughters and their five children.
Mfusi said she qualified for the RDP house while she was still unemployed and later sold it to Ndlovu for R14,000 although the house was never transferred to Ndlovu’s name. She said in 2019 she received summons for R38,000 in unpaid rates. Mfusi said she approached Ndlovu to settle the debt so they could get a title deed but that Ndlovu could not afford this.
She then decided to sell the house to Makhanye, who agreed to pay R30,000 to settle the municipal debt. In April last year, Makhanye approached the Ndlovu family requesting them to pay him a monthly rent of R500 as he was the owner of the property.
Two weeks ago, Makhanye said he asked Mfusi to make a plan so he can move into his house. Ndlovu, who has been allowed to stay in a one-room house next to the disputed RDP house for three weeks, said her eviction was traumatic.
“My son bought this house for me from that lady (Mfusi) and we were living safe in our own house after staying in the farms for years until my husband died. Now I don’t know where to go because I even built another room next to the RDP with my pension money … but now we have to leave, God knows to where,” said Ndlovu.
According to Mfusi, she had to sell the house as the municipality had taken legal steps against her and was trying to attach her property for the unpaid rates. She admitted that she might have made a mistake by not transferring the ownership from the start when she sold the house to Ndlovu.
Makhanye denied that he was behind the eviction of the elderly woman and her children. He said Mfusi was a family friend and when he learnt that she wanted to sell the house he took the opportunity.
“We went to check in the municipality and found out that it was owing R38,000 in rates and she asked for amnesty and they made her pay R19,000. I gave her that money and also gave her R10,000 on top. I asked her to make the Ndlovus aware that I want to move in and demolish the house and build whatever structure of mine,” he said.
He said he spoke to Mfusi earlier this year, telling her that he wanted to move in and that Mfusi told him on the 18th of January, that she had demolished the house and that Makhanye can come occupy his house.
The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) accused Mfusi and Makhanye of conniving to make profit and drive an old person out of the house during lockdown.
Sanco chairperson, Sifiso Zacarias said Ndlovu was being chased out of a home by people working for the government, which initially built such homes for the poor.
“This is saddening. How do you evict an old woman and nine other people who don’t have another place to stay?” asked Zacarias.
Freddy Ngobe, spokesperson for the department of human settlements in Mpumalanga, said the department did not have jurisdiction to directly intervene, and the Ndlovus were advised to report the matter to law enforcement agencies for investigation. He added that the department condemns any acts of fraud, evictions and victimisation of the elderly during this difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic.