Protest after shacks are demolished

Residents barricade roads in protest after their shacks were demolished by law enforcement officers.

Emotions ran high as residents of Sophakama informal settlement in Driftsands barricaded roads after their shacks were demolished and materials taken by law enforcement agencies in the early hours of Monday June 22.

The residents claim that the owner of the land they had been living on, had asked them to move because she wanted to build a creche there.

They were given until yesterday, Wednesday June 24, to vacate the land.

Residents said when they approached their community leaders, these leaders had identified a small piece of an empty land and agreed that they could put up their structures there.

The residents started building their shacks on the land last Saturday, but by the following day law enforcement agencies had demolished their shacks and confiscated their building material.

Simanye Mekuto who has lived in the area for seven years, said her four-roomed shack was demolished and the materials damaged to such an extent that she would not be able to use them again.

She was among those who had adhered to the leaders when they suggested an area for the relocation of residents’ shacks.

Ms Mekuto said the shack belonged to her mother-in-law who now lives in the Eastern Cape. Some affected residents, she said, had taken loans to purchase materials to build their homes.

When law enforcement agencies arrived, she said, they had not given residents a chance to remove their belongings from their shacks.

“I have lived in this place for years and its the only place that I can call home. We all slept outside because we had nowhere to go. I have no idea where I will sleep tonight,” she told Vukani.

“We are homeless and it feels as if we do not matter.

“It’s only 13 families and it’s not like it’s people who are coming from other areas. We slept outside in the cold on Sunday evening. When we attempted to rebuild our homes again on Monday, they came back and finished what they had started,” she said.

Community leader, Lindelwa Mbambanani Mahlombe said one resident was arrested while others had been left with scars and wounds from being assaulted by the law enforcement officers.

Ward councillor, Themba Honono, said he had told the residents that he does not have land and that if the owner of a piece of land instructs them to move, they should do so.

Vukani asked the City for their input on the matter, but by the time this story was published, they had not yet responded.