CAMEROON

Angry landlord removes residence hall doors to kick out students

The angry owner of a university residence hall in Yaoundé, Cameroon, found a radical way to evict his tenants after months of unpaid rents: he simply got rid of all of their doors, without warning.

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Photo published on Mboa Blog on September 6, 2010.

The angry owner of a university residence hall in Yaoundé, Cameroon, found a radical way to evict his tenants after months of unpaid rents: he simply got rid of all of their doors, without warning.

In the early hours of Saturday, September 4, the irate owner turned up at the ‘Oasis Mini Cité’ residence hall accompanied by several armed henchmen. There, he ordered all of the doors of student rooms to be removed. Some students were out, others fast asleep in bed. But all were in for a nasty shock. The owner demanded that they leave the building within 24 hours, despite the fact that it was the middle of exam season.

The owner supervising the door removal

 

 

 

 

All photos published on Mboa Blog on September 6, 2010.

“I’m the last one left in the residence because I have nowhere else to go”

Helen [not her real name] is from Cameroon and studies biochemistry in Yaoundé. She lives in the Oasis hall of residence.

On September 4, I was getting ready to go to class when I heard a racket on my doorstep. When I tried to open my door, I realised that a group of men were in the process of unhinging it. I was so shocked by what happened that I missed that day’s exams. As a result, I have flunked this school year.

The owner removed the doors because of people who hadn’t paid their rent for over a year. I paid 20 months in advance, but he didn’t make any difference between those who had paid and those who hadn’t. We were all ordered to leave the premises within 24 hours. The owner says the residence needs to be closed for renovation: they have to paint the walls, change the floors and install individual showers. He sent us a warning message a month ago, but nobody left.

I finally negotiated to be allowed to stay until Friday 18 September to take my last exams. I’m the last person left in the residence because I have nowhere else to go. It’s quite frightening to be alone in a hall of 40 empty, doorless rooms. Even worse, there has been no electricity for the past two weeks, and no running water either. For now, I’ve been spending all of my time outside and only go back to the residence to sleep. I don’t know where I’m going to live. My parents don’t live in Yaoundé, and they can’t afford to help me pay a flat. Besides, I’m in the middle of exams, I don’t have time to look for another place to live. The other residents went to stay with friends or family.

The problem is that in Yaoundé, all of the public student residences are full, so we have to resort to privately-owned buildings. Obviously, though, the owners can do what they want.

The association for the defence of student rights recommended that I write a letter to the university dean to defend my rights, and that of other students. I hope that our voice will be heard."