A popular medical doctor in Harare who is using premises belonging to the Red Cross Society of South Africa faces eviction from the facility over unpaid rent.
Her landlord says repeated attempts to get her to honour her rental agreement, had been unsuccessful, but community leaders and residents are determined that the doctor is not going anywhere.
According to the angry residents, a group of men arrived at the premises on Friday March 18 saying they had been instructed by the sheriff of the court to evict Dr Vuyelwa Nongogo, allegedly over unpaid rent.
The men then removed all of Dr Nongogo’s belongings from inside the building. But residents quickly gathered outside the premises and locked the gate.
Dr Nongogo has been operating from the facility for 19 years and this is not the first time that the society has attempted to evict her.
Admitting that there were “issues” between her and the Red Cross Society, Dr Nongogo said she was extremely unhappy about the way things had been handled. She added that she had tried several times to call a meeting with them to discuss their disagreements.
However, when pressed for an explanation of what these issues were, Dr Nongogo refused to elaborate.
“I wish that I could have a meeting with the Red Cross so that we could iron out our differences. This is the second time that they are threatening to evict me. Since I have been operating here I have never seen the Red Cross Society giving services to the community and I have done more for this community than they could have done,” Dr Nongogo said.
“I have employed 14 people from this community and if they are chasing me that means these people are not going to be able to provide food for their families. During this tough economic phase I did not retrench or cut anyone’s salary.
“I have assisted families who at times could not bury their loved ones,” she said.
Chairperson of the Michael Mapongwana branch of the South African National Civics Organisation (SANCO), Myalezi Mdubuli, said according to his understanding, the dispute is over unpaid rent from Dr Nongogo to the Red Cross Society.
He said when they met with the doctor, she had informed them that she had an agreement with the Red Cross Society which stipulated that she would pay them rent monthly. But a couple of years ago she apparently stopped paying because the building was not being maintained by the Red Cross Society.
As result, he said, she had been forced to fix the building herself. His assessment, he added, was that the Red Cross Society had neglected the building.
“It is the doctor that has painted the entire building, including a hall belonging to the Red Cross. We have also asked the doctor to install burglar gates around the hall which belong to the Red Cross because chairs which belonged to the community that were inside the hall were stolen.
“Red Cross wants monthly rent and yet they are not fixing this building. Dr Nongogo is not going anywhere I can assure and promises you that,” he said
The Red Cross Society of South Africa’s provincial co-ordinator, Fanel Campher, confirmed that a court order had been granted to evict Dr Nongogo but that a group of people had illegally stopped the eviction.
He said for nine years they had been in talks about the rental issue but the doctor had repeatedly failed to pay rent.
Mr Campher said Dr Nongogo was required to pay a monthly rental of R1 000, and confirmed that a few years back they had attempted to evict her, but had encountered similar resistance.
“The matter is with the court and they are working with authorities to have her arrested for invasion of property which does not belong to her.
“We can’t render services to the people of Harare because that property is not making revenue. If she had done any maintenance she must show us the receipt so that we could see how much she had spent.
“We had done maintenance in 2019 but we could not finish it because of community fighting us,” he said.