Soweto house burnt over ownership dispute
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Johannesburg - A Soweto family could soon be homeless after their matchbox house was burnt four times in a fiery dispute over ownership.
The Mlangeni family from Emndeni have been battling over the five-room house for many years.
The latest row has led to a family member allegedly setting the house alight.
Police have made no arrests, however, the matter had become a talking point in the community, highlighting common disputes over township houses.
The Star spoke to Mmabatho Mlangeni, 54, who said the family was faced with the speedy fixing of the house for an upcoming reburial of their late father, an ANC member, who died in exile in Tanzania.
“Where will my fathers’ remains arrive? I can’t let them arrive in my own home. He must come home to the house he left.
“This is a shame for us. We used to be respected as a family in the community but the fight over the house has brought us shame,’’ Mmabatho said.
She said she had gone as far as approaching a local community radio station, Jozi FM, for help. A women’s group, Imbokodo, was also called in to intervene.
Mmabatho said the feud over the house had become such a nightmare that they were thinking of selling it.
“This house had burnt three times because of the same person.
“We can’t sleep at night because of this house.
“We are having a grandchild dictating to us who is the owner of the house,” Mmabatho added.
Most of the family members are unemployed and are living in three outside rooms while the main house remains empty, with ashes and debris lying in the structure.
The family alleged that a family member burnt the house in order to ensure no one in the family could have access to it.
The family said the problem was so bad that the alleged member has a firearm and would randomly fire shots in the air.
Mmabatho said they had approached the SA National Civics Organisation and the ANC for help.
“My sister and her kids want the house for herself and her children.
“Now it is like we don’t have a say in our parents’ house,” Mmabatho said.
The Star spoke to the family member who allegedly set the house alight. She admitted she had a drug problem and needed help.
It was unclear when Mlangeni’s remains would be buried, but the family were worried that if the house remained in the current state, criminals would vandalise it.
The ANC in Joburg said there was a serious crisis of unemployment and inequality that, in many instances, contributed to fights over houses in townships.
“Generally, as African, we grow up in one home as a family and when parents pass away, some may want to take charge. It’s a historic issue and that is why the demand for housing is very high,” the ANC said.