Covid residents demand services

Residents barricaded the N2, demanding basic services.

There was chaos as scores of residents from the newly established Covid informal settlement near Driftsands burnt tyres and rubbish on the N2, demanding water and toilets, last Friday.

These residents are among those who have illegally occupied vacant land in almost every part of Khayelitsha, Mfuleni and Delft in the past few months.

The residents argued that they had been living in the area for at least for six months and yet there was no indication from their public representative when they would get sanitation services.

Community leader, Bongile Zanazo, said one of the many reasons the residents had opted to invade land was because they wanted a decent place to live while others were no longer able to pay their rent.

Furthermore, he said, many had been squatting with relatives but there was not enough space for them to stay there long-term.

He said while they understood it took time to provide decent houses, they wanted government to at least provide them with water and toilets.

He said some leaders argued that because they had invaded vacant land, their settlements were not recognised and they could therefore not get these services.

However, he said, if these leaders considered them land invaders then they should read history and state who first stole African land from its people.

“We can’t be called land invaders in a land that belongs to Africans. We don’t have have tools and weapons to fight the state but we have our souls and body.

“We are willing to sacrifice our lives if we need to be until we get these services.

“All we want is water and toilets, nothing else.

“One person here was bitten by a snake because we are using the bush to relieve ourselves.

The people’s families are growing and people are not able to live in a small overcrowded shack.

“We can’t live with our parents any more, we need to build our families and the reality is that not everyone can afford to buy a formal house.

“To us these shacks is the best houses that we could provide for our families hence we have opted to build them.

“If we had means, we would have bought houses long time ago,” he said.

Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) chairman Ndithini Tyhido, said he had been invited to a meeting by the local leaders but he had not met them and until he has met with the leadership and understands their issues he will not be able to comment on the matter.

Another resident, Mzukisi Zwelibanzi, said they took the land because there was no clear indication from government when their communities would be developed.

The City’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, said the land in question belongs to national government and that the City would not be able to provide basic services because the land had been illegally occupied and was not a recognised informal settlement.