KTC residents fight for their shacks

Residents picketed at KTC informal settlement.

Fuming residents of KTC informal settlement have accused their ward councillor, Khaya Yozi, of demolishing their shacks which he claims had been illegally built.

They claimed Mr Yozi had been visiting certain households in the area at night threatening to demolish their shacks if they did not dismantle them themselves.

The residents, however, claim that these shacks were not new but shacks which had been previously built in swamp areas. And therefore their occupants had approached area leadership seeking approval to remove them from the water-logged area to more suitable empty plots in the area.

These residents say community leaders had assessed their homes and agreed that they could be moved.

Nevertheless, they claimed that four shacks had been demolished already by law enforcement agencies, allegedly instructed to do so by their ward councillor.

This resulted in residents picketing last Tuesday, describing their ward councillor a bully.

Mr Yozi admitted that he had visited a number of households who had been instructed to remove their shacks or they would be demolished – but he denied having threatened them during night-time visits. Some of these shacks had already been demolished, he added.

He said when someone’s shack is built in a swamp area that person must not move to another place but rather inform him and the ward leadership as there were plans in place to assist them.

Among these were using tar and sand to stabilise the area the shacks were built on. This, he said, they had done a number of times and it had proven to be effective.

He said there were 1 338 shacks in the area and they were trying to prevent opportunistic movement into the area by people hoping to benefit from a nearby housing development.

“I have told them nicely to take back their shacks to where they had been because when law enforcement demolishes them they destroy their material. I have also informed them about the assistance which I will provide free of charge and I have done it.

“I mean those who protested is a small group of people while others are not involved. Some of these people lived as backyarders in their family homes and now want to erect shacks in that area because there is a development taking place.

“Yes, they are from KTC but in other areas. If you have been identified as one of these people that have recently put up a structure, I do a proper verification to ensure the information provided is correct,” he said.

Resident Ziyanda Magantsela said her shack had been built in swamp area so she informed the area leadership about her challenges and asked for permission to move – which they agreed to. But she was shocked when she received an unexpected visit from the councillor informing her to remove her shack as it was not suppose to be moved from its original place, she said.

“I did not go work because I feared that my house would be destroyed. I don’t see anything wrong with what I have done. I don’t want to move in that place because it is better than where I was,” she said.

However, community leader, Tshepo Motlhabane, rubbished Mr Yozi’s statements claiming that there was absolutely nothing wrong with moving from the swamp to a better place within the area.

He said these people had been living in the area for years and were not opportunists who might be eyeing houses.

He said all of these people who had moved and occupied these empty spots had been given a go ahead by the areas leadership.