Khayelitsha land occupiers cry out for help as their homes get torn down

Khayelitsha land occupiers cry out for help as their homes get torn down

- The people of Khayelitsha have had their homes demolished by officials

- Officials have said that their is a warrant which allows them to do so but no one has seen it

- The community have had enough and are crying out in desperation as their homes and belongings are being destroyed

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"Law enforcement officials never showed us a court order on all the occasions they came and destroyed our shacks," says community leader Andiswa Kolanisi of Msindweni informal settlement, Khayelitsha.

Kolanisi stated in a GroundUp report on Monday, that the City of Cape Town destroyed shacks on 3 March, 13 March and 3 April.

The officials, according to Kolanisi, were confronted on 3 April by her and other residents.

"We asked them where the court order was, who was in charge, and who we could talk to about the court order. They ignored us and proceeded to demolish our shacks."

Kolansi’s shack was torn down by the officials and her window frame and door, bed, cupboard and dishes were destroyed.

Mayoral committee member for area east councillor Anda Ntsodo said: "The City of Cape Town can confirm that there is a court interdict on the land. The interdict was served and it prevents anyone from illegally erecting structures on the land without the consent of the owner. The land in question belongs to the City of Cape Town."

Kolanisi said it was a very emotional time for the children from the settlement when they returned home from school. Carrying their school bags on their backs, they burst into tears when they saw their homes had been destroyed.

The list Kolanisi had, consisted of about 203 people living in the settlement.

"When we moved onto the land the first time [in February], we were about 500. Other residents returned to their homes and backyards because of demolitions," she said.

Those that remained were “really desperate”. They had nowhere to go as they had no means of transporting their shacks to a different location. Kolanisi said some residents relied on seasonal work on farms and at the time were currently without jobs.

The organization of the settlement was shown to Groundup by Kolanisi.

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"See, we leave space between shacks so that they are not closely clustered. Fire spreads easily from one shack to another when shacks are too close to each other.

"We also leave space for streets. This place looks good now. It looked like a scrap yard after the last demolition," said Kolanisi.

A two-roomed shack owned by Nonceba Ndlebe was demolished twice leaving her with just one room.

"The City left me without building materials, so I was forced to collect pieces of [scrap] building materials to rebuild my shack," she said.

'I lose material each time the City destroys it'

Nokuthula Malgas has had her shack destroyed three times.

"My shack was big when I first built it here, but now it has shrunk because I lose material each time the City destroys it," she said. She lives with her husband and three children, aged two, seven and 11.

Noluthando Manyefane, community leader, said residents has been allowed to build shacks near Philippi Plaza in Philippi.

"Why can't [the City] allow us to do the same here?"

She described the shack demolishers as "wild", "merciless", "as if they were high on tik".

On Thursday night, Manyefane said about 50 residents arrived to build new shacks.

"They used candles while they built their shacks. During the day they go to their workplaces or hunt for jobs," she said.

Zolani Ntlemeza arrived on Friday with more people in toe. Ntlemeza works as a supervisor at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West, and is currently on short time

"The money I earn is not enough to pay rent, buy electricity and support my jobless wife and [three] kids, so I made a decision to stay here," he said.

"Here I will build a big shack so that my kids can have their own room."

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