Solidarity: Order won to prevent harassment - Tenants take landlord to court

17 06 2008
For more on Motala Heights, visit the Abahlali baseMjondolo archive.
June 16, 2008 Edition 1
Irene Kuppan
Source: Daily News

THREE Motala Heights residents, who descri-bed their landlord as a “something of a dictator” who has “sown fear and terror” in the area, have successfully gone to court to protect themselves from harassment by the landlord’s relatives or employees.

The residents - James Pillay, Gonum Pillay and Mallie Govender - were granted an interim order preventing Ricky Govender from instructing his employees or relatives from threatening or assaulting them.

The order, which was granted by Durban High Court Judge Gregory Kruger on Friday, also prevents Govender’s relatives and employees from trespassing on the property on which the residents live.

This is not the first time the residents and landlord have locked horns in court.

Pillay, his wife and Mallie obtained a court order last year to prevent the landlord from evicting, harassing, threatening or abusing them.

In his affidavit before court, Pillay said Govender had not harassed or assaulted them in his personal capacity since then, but had been doing so through his “various agents, employees, family members, skivvies and lackeys”.

Pillay has lived in Motala Heights for the past 37 years and, like Mallie, had a written lease agreement with the previous landlord.

He said when Govender bought the property their lease agreements were ceded and assigned to the new landlord.

Since 2002 the three residents have been paying rent of R150 a month to Govender.

According to Pillay, the legal action began when Govender threatened to bulldoze their homes last year.


He said his landlord’s “intimidatory tactics” included dumping waste onto their property, burning plastic waste near their homes and refusing to allow the residents to remove the waste.

“In truth he holds himself out as something of a dictator who appears to have curried favour with the local police station in Pinetown, and who has, through his intimidation, threats and acts of violence, sown fear and terror throughout the residents of Motala Heights,” Pillay said.

He said in December he and Mallie had received phone calls from people threatening to burn their houses down.

In March this year he found a petrol bomb about 5m away from his house.

Pillay noticed the petrol in the bomb was a mixture of petrol and 2-stroke oil, the kind of oil used to run small motorbikes.

He said Ricky Govender’s son had a similar motor bike and that he had seen the oil on his landlord’s premises.

Pillay added that recently he was erecting a fence on his property when Ricky Govender and relative Shag Govender began swearing at him, said they were going to evict him and threatened to tear his house down.

In May, Pillay said Leon Govender, a friend of the landlord’s, parked his car in Pillay’s driveway, obstructing it and later verbally abused him.

Pillay said he was later wrongly arrested for damage to the car and was kept in police cells for two days before being released on warning.

He believes the landlord has plans to develop the property and for this reason wants the residents evicted.

“I think that he sends people to harass me so that I will eventually give in and leave the property.”

Pillay described the run-ins with the landlord as not just petty incidents, but part of a “war of attrition”, a campaign by Govender to drive them off his property.



Leave a comment