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Women’s Month: Meet the woman who has dedicated her life to fighting for poor flat dwellers

Durban – At 60 years-old, Maureen Rambhadursing, a social justice warrior from KwaZulu-Natal, believes that her organisation, Poor Flat Dwellers Movement (PDM), will only be doing more to restore dignity to those who have been stripped of it.

Rambhadursing, a former Durban Metro police officer of 18 years, spoke to IOL during Women’s Month to shine a light on the tireless work she and her team of legal experts have done to reduce housing evictions in the country.

The PFDM team works across South Africa.

The organisation helps fight evictions in both the state-owned and privately-owned sectors, said Rambhadursing, who co-founded the Poor Flat Dwellers Movement with Dr Desmond De Sa in 2009.

Justice is a team effort, she said, as her partnerships with the many legal firms and lawyers who litigate matters cannot go unmentioned.

Rambhadursing works with legal organisations like the Legal Resource Centre, Samuel and Company, Clifford Athman Attorneys and lawyers Nicole Barnibas, Shahin Azimuth and Christine Wilson.

She said PFDM also works closely with The Dullah Omar foundation, which helps them with research.

IOL asked her what three words sum up her organisation’s mission.

She said: “Justice for housing”.

“I got into this because of my case. A lawyer, who was managing a number of buildings, took me to court. They were bullying our owners. We have pensioners that occupy the property on Durban south beach. That was the awakening that I had,” she said.

“For too long, people of colour have suffered. We believe that we can no longer have a colonial way of thinking and have legislation that continues to plague us and deny us the right to housing in terms of the constitution,” Rambhadursing added.

Much has been spoken about the work that the PFDM does in earlier publications, but IOL wanted to take a closer look at the woman behind the curtain of justice.

After going through her own court battle over a housing discrepancy, she was inspired to take action and help others that may not have the resources and network to help themselves.

Besides being a thorn in the side of incompetent housing administrators, Rambhadursing is a mother of two, a 38-year-old and a 42-year-old, and also has a partner who currently lives in Australia.

When she isn’t exercising her legal prowess, she enjoys attending church services and lunch with the ladies (when she has the time).

At the start of the year, she was honoured by the UAE organisation for her 20-year-long fight for social justice. One of her most recent successes was helping restore electricity to a nursing home, where the elderly were left without power and hot water.

Justice of the Constitutional Court Leona Theron celebrated Rambhadursing’s accomplishments, calling her the “force and the staying power behind this organisation” (PFDM).

We asked her what advice she would give to a younger version of herself.

“If they believe that the legislation doesn’t serve the people or what the Constitution says. I believe it is important for them to appeal the legislation and apply their minds legally and to make sure the legislation we have speaks for the people.

“Children also get evicted, not just adults, so I think it is very important for our children to understand what happens and the process involved. If we can get that information to the younger people so they can take responsibility when they get older,” Rambhadursing said.

IOL

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