Indians fight Mobeni evictions
MBABANE – A family of Asians renting at Mobeni Flats in Matsapha has alleged that they are being discriminated against because they are ‘Indians’ and are now resisting eviction.
Their landlord, the Swaziland National Housing Board (SNHB), has tried in vain for a period spanning to over a year now, to eject them after their lease agre-ement expired.
They occupy Flat number two found in Block MA 48.
Their lease agreement expired on March 31, 2011.
That is when their battle to remain in the premises started.
Before the expiry of the lease, the flat was originally leased to Shree Rang Investments Company.
The company then gave it to Mukesh Patel to live with his family of over five members.
Patel is resisting the eviction because he believes he has a right to live at Mobeni as he says he too is a Swazi.
In court papers filed by the company he works for, he said by evicting his family, the SNHB violated his Swazi constitutional rights particularly section 20 of the constitution.
They alleged in one of their court papers that the eviction was racially motivated in that they were being discrimi-nated against because of their skin colour, race and ethnic origin.
They believe, by appr-oaching the courts to eject them, SNHB abu-sed the court process.
"This is merely an abuse of the court process and show-cased their financial muscle coupled with a spirited desire to get rid of us as Indians at the premises," reads an affidavit they filed at the High Court.
"SNHB’s actions have disrupted my life as I was given the flat by the company to use as part of my benefits. I have lived there with my entire fam-ily for the past 10 years and cannot find accommodation for the same value anywhere. SNHB failed to obtain alternative accommodation for me."
SNHB has won three different court orders from different courts which compelled them to vacate Mobeni but the board has thus far failed to evict them because the Asians challenged them in court.
Two of such orders were granted by two different courts at the magistrate’s court and another one was granted by the High Court.
Through their attorney Macilongo Ndlovu of Masina, Ndlovu, Mzizi Attorneys, the Asians are challenging the recent judgment made by High Court Judge justice Esther Ota on April 30, 2012 where she ruled that they vacate the premises and further pay costs of the matter at an attorney and own client scale.
Instead of following the judgment and briefly after the judgment was issued, they filed an appeal to the country’s highest court, the Supreme Court against the eviction.
They managed to stall the eviction once again.
The Asians now occupy the flat on the strength of the appeal which is still pending in court.
Their matter is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court in its next sitting.
"If the leave to appeal is granted for the execution pending appeal, they will have absolutely no where to go. They have no alternative place of accomm-odation. They will be practically thrown to the streets," reads the Asians affidavit filed on May 10 at the High Court.
As the case plays itself in courts, the SNHB said it suffered irreparable harm by having strangers occupy its premises without a valid lease agreement.
"They have made changes to the structures of the leased premises by erecting burglars that run from the floor to the roof without our permi-ssion."
Mduduzi Dlamini the Chief Executive Officer of SNHB said he could not comment on the matter because it was still pending in court.
On May 11 an abbreviated court order was issued that the Asians pay rentals between now and the appeal as per the increased rent and the differences therein to be backdated to May 1 2011 to the conclusion of the matter at Appeal before the Supreme Court.
Flat was meant for low earners
MBABANE – The Swaziland National Housing Board told the court that it evicted the Asians because they occupied a flat which was supposed to be used to implement Government Policy of Social Housing.
This policy is aimed at providing housing to low income earning Swazis. SNHB evicted all people who were considered foreigners at the beginning of 2011. The Asian family was among those nationals who were ejected then.
According to submissions in court, most of the evictees then were Ghanaian nationals.
The Asian family has lived at Mobeni for over 10 years now.
The flat was originally leased to a company called Shree Rang Investments which is under the directorship of Mukesh Patel.
It could not be established whether Patel lives in the flat with his family or not as when visited on Friday afternoon the occupant refused to open the door.
Their lease expired on March 31, 2011. It has been over a year now since they occupied the place without a lease agreement.
A lease agreement is a legal document signed by the landlord and the lessee, it specifies terms and conditions of occupying the property.
Thus far all the parastatal’s efforts have been in vain. The Times SUNDAY team visited the flat on Friday at about 3pm; occupants did not open the door when the team knocked.
"Who are you, what do you want?" a woman bellowed from behind the closed doors. When told that reporters wanted to speak to her, she declined to open the door and told them to go away.
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