Residents have ‘nowhere to go’ after clash with police
By Golden Tseteka
Cape Town – Some Makhaza residents slept in the cold rain on Sunday night after their shacks were demolished by the City of Cape Town.
The shacks were erected on city-owned land and thus were illegal.
Law enforcement officers were asked to accompany the contractors employed to remove the structures.
But after the officers left, many residents simply rebuilt on the land.
On Monday, there were violent clashes between the residents of the Khayelitsha tract of land and law enforcement officers.
Residents burnt debris in the road and stoned a law enforcement vehicle.
They said they had nowhere else to go.
Simphiwe Mahlabedlula, 31, said the residents had no choice but to stay on the land. “There are elderly people who rely on grant money. They cannot afford to pay rent. And people who do not have relatives to go to, where are they suppose to go?”
According to Nobongile Gojana, a pensioner, she slept outside in the rain on Sunday night with her four-year-old grandson and 36-year-old daughter.
She said they had not been informed of the pending eviction and had been caught off guard on Sunday morning.
“We are dissatisfied because we were not aware that the land we settled in was not approved by our councillor, Danile Khatshwa.”
“My daughter and I are currently unemployed. We cannot afford to pay rent and we have nowhere else to go. Even if we did have a place to sleep, our furniture and some of the undamaged material was going to be stolen.”
“So we slept outside and it rained. Bear in mind I am sick and my furniture is soaking wet.”
Khwatsha said on Sunday that he told the residents to go back to where they had come from before settling on the land.
Mayco member for Informal Settlements, Water and Energy Xanthea Limberg said the occupants, “most of whom were backyard dwellers from surrounding areas” were there illegally as the land was owned by the City.
“The City do not deem these community members as being homeless because many were residing in backyard structures in the surrounding areas of Makhaza.”
“The occupation of land without formal consent from the owner, which in this case is the City of Cape Town, is an offence.”
“The City does, however, provide housing opportunities for indigent residents. The formal process to access potential housing opportunities is managed through the City’s housing database.”
“All suitable vacant land is for future developments.”