'The police have failed us' - Alex mom despairs as mob evicts family again

JMPD officers protected family through the night, while fearful daughter wept

24 May 2019 - 12:10 By Iavan Pijoos
Melissa and Gibson Ncube pose for a portrait at their home in Alexandra, Johannesburg. The pair have been the victims of xenophobic attacks for over a year by a group of residents that claim that Gibson doesn’t have the correct paperwork to reside and own his property.
Melissa and Gibson Ncube pose for a portrait at their home in Alexandra, Johannesburg. The pair have been the victims of xenophobic attacks for over a year by a group of residents that claim that Gibson doesn’t have the correct paperwork to reside and own his property.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

An Alexandra family is feeling anxious and frustrated after being evicted from their home by a mob for the second time in two weeks.

The family, who are legal occupants of the property, were ousted from their home by a group of about 40 around 6pm on Thursday. Their front door was removed and their belongings thrown on to the street.

The two-bedroom duplex belonging to the Ncube family is in a narrow street in the township north of Johannesburg.

Gibson Ncube applied for the house in 1996, and once the processes were completed, the family moved into it in 2010.

Wife Melissa Ncube told TimesLIVE that she was at home with their five-year-old daughter when the incident happened.

Melissa said the mob followed their 15-year-old daughter home and demanded she open the door.

"They told me to open the gate and I didn't respond, because I was scared. They broke the gate and the door with their weapons. They asked where my husband was and started taking out our things."

At the time, her husband was where he plies his trade, selling clothes on the side of the road, not far from his house. 

They have been facing eviction threats by community members in the township since December last year.

"This time they threw the stuff outside on the street, not even outside at the gate. They broke many things of ours," said Melissa.

All the belongings of the Ncube family were thrown out on the streets.
All the belongings of the Ncube family were thrown out on the streets.
Image: Melissa Ncube

She said Gibson rushed to the police station but police failed to helpt him.

According to Melissa, her husband waited for hours but police did not dispatch officers to their house.  

"I want the truth, because I want to know why the police are not helping us.

"It's like the police are behind these things because no one is helping us. They delay you at the police station so that these people can finish. When you go to the police station and ask for help, they say there are no police to help you," the desperate mother of two said.  

She said they were eventually helped by Johannesburg metro police on Thursday evening.  The metro cops helped ensure their safety through the night.

David Tembe, the metro's police chief, responded to message of appreciation by Ncube's employer with this tweet: "Much appreciated, we can't sit and wait while our residents are threatened, we have to serve with dignity & integrity."

Referring to the SAPS, she said: "Police don't even come in to check how they can help you, they sit in their van."

"That is not fair, we are not safe. I want justice, I want to the truth and want to know why they are doing this."

Ncube said her 15-year-old daughter, who is in grade 8, was currently busy with tests, saying that the continuing threats had impacted her "badly".

"She cried all night last night. How is she going to focus at school?

"Right now, we don't even have a door at our house.

"They told us we will never know peace until we leave the house."

Police spokesperson Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said they would look into the matter.

The Gauteng department of human settlements said it was a criminal act to evict a person without a court order or proper legal documentation.

"The preliminary investigations in the case of Gibson Ncube suggest that he has an approved subsidy in respect of the same property that he is reportedly being evicted from.

"The subsidy was approved in 2010 and he was allocated the house in May 2010. The illegal eviction is a criminal act which must be dealt with by the SAPS," the department said.

It called on law enforcement to take action against the alleged mob.

"The department condemns actions by hooligans and criminal elements who seek to exploit this cause to implement their selfish, xenophobic and criminal agendas."


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