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More demolitions set for tomorrow

. . . Ha Hoohlo braces for another property takeover

Boitumelo Koloi

Maseru — Hardly a week after six Ha Hoohlo families were left homeless following the demolition of their housing structures and the takeover of the property by a new land owner, another set of residents in the village face the same fate tomorrow.

On Tuesday six families were left stranded after they were evicted from their rented houses because the new property owner, businessman Ashraf Abubaker, a naturalised Mosotho of Indian descent, wants to develop his property.

Some of the tenants said they had lived on the property for the past 20 years. The owner of the disputed property, Teboho Hoohlo, told the Sunday Express on Wednesday that she lost the
property after her step-brother allegedly used the land as surety to secure a loan at a local bank without her knowledge.

When her step-brother failed to repay the loan, the site was auctioned to Abubaker who reportedly brought earth-moving machinery to flatten the land, presumably to prepare the property for other uses.

In the process shacks and houses were demolished, leaving six families being of no fixed abode.
The affected residents of the border settlement said they woke up to a shocking spectacle as excavators and bulldozers brought down the structures they had called home for years.

“No one said anything to any member of the community to warn us, we only saw the buildings going down with no explanation whatsoever,” said Malitšitso Monaheng, a member of the village administration committee.

The occupants of the demolished structures, which include shacks built from corrugated iron sheets,
said they had received an anonymous written notification the previous day informing them to vacate the property the following day.

They allege the note was neither stamped nor signed. The Sunday Express established yesterday that the same village was once again visited by unknown men who dropped the same letters to another part of the village.

‘Mamoshoeshoe Ngwenya said an unknown man had come to her property shoving notes under the doors of her tenants “and ultimately also gave me a copy of my own as well”.

“The note bore a brief message which instructs us all to vacate the property by 10 am on Monday (tomorrow),” Ngwenya said.

The note written by someone calling them selves ‘the owner of the site’ bears the same message as the one which had been delivered to the occupants of the site demolished on Tuesday.

Ngwenya, who told this paper that she knew the site belongs to no one else but herself, said she was prepared to fight to the bitter end for her property against “the jackals who are greedily waiting to take up people’s land”.

Ngwenya said she had been allocated the piece of land by her late grandmother, adding that she has since been awaiting documentation confirming her ownership of the site.

Ngwenya mentioned,however, that she suspected her relative, with whom she has been involved in a lengthy legal tussle over the property, could be the source of the tragic drama.

She said her relative, (name supplied)this paper knows, was the reason she has to date not received her documentation to certify her ownership of the site.

More demolitions set for tomorrow. . . Ha Hoohlo braces for another property takeover “I suspect that she could have sold the site behind my back possibly to these Indians, but trust me I will not be evicted from my own property like a dog,” she said indignantly.

Thakane Lesoro, one of the now homeless tenants said the structures were demolished while they were at work.

“Neighbours notified us that there was commotion in the village as unknown men with heavy machinery were bringing down the structures we called houses,” Lesoro said.

She said by the time they got to the site their homes were reduced to rubble after bulldozers had flattened the land.

“We were mercilessly evicted from our rented houses when they were demolished by Abubaker who said we were illegal occupants on his property”, said Monaheng.

Monaheng accused Abubaker of unfairly leaving six families at the mercy of the elements and extending what she said is a mission to dispossess local people of their land.

“Ha Hoohlo is slowly turning into an Indian town as businesspersons like Abubaker take up the township one piece-of-land a time,” Monaheng said.

According to the wheelchair-bound community leader, all this is happening as a result of unavailability of jobs, as the poor landowners give away their property to anyone who can pay.
“Our poor people are attracted by the mention of the word ‘million’ and are quick to give away their land to rich people,” she said.

Meanwhile the Sunday Express understands that the note delivered to Ngwenya and her tenants was from the Indian businessperson, as one of the persons delivering the notes is understood
to have mentioned “his disgust at being thus used by these Indians against fellow countrymen, all in the name of money”.

Abubaker could not be reached for a comment as he was said to be out of the country at the time of going to print.

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