Residents demand vacant land to build houses

Gugulethu backyarders protesting outside the Cape Town High Court on Tuesday morning.

Group representatives said they took their struggle to the courts because nobody seemed to care about them.

In recent weeks, Gugulethu has seen raging battles between law enforcement and backyarders over pieces of vacant land where shacks have been built and demolished.

Some roads were barricaded with stones and burning tyres.

One of the backyarders’ representatives, Melvin Tshabalala, said the court interdict against the invasion of a piece of land “should be thrown away”.

He said they were not criminals.

Singing and dancing, the group called for justice to be served for Gugulethu backyarders.

“We felt there is a need to counter the interdict. But most importantly, we need land or houses.

“That is the story of our lives. We cannot compromise on that. What is important is housing for the backyarders of Gugulethu,” he said.

Mr Tshabalala said all they wanted was to reclaim their dignity.

“We do not vandalise anything or burn tyres on the road. What we think is happening is that criminals have taken advantage of our struggle,” said Mr Tshabalala “The struggle for houses should be made a struggle for all. We will not back down on that one,” he reiterated.

The group also prayed outside the court.

One backyard dweller, who only identified herself as Lizeka, said they are 26 people living in one house.

Lizeka said they would all love to have separate houses but most of them were unemployed.

“We live in an old Gugulethu house with our parents, grandparents, our children and their children.

“It is a mess. Some sleep in the bathroom while others sleep in the toilet.

“The only source of income is our parents’ grant.

“I have grown tired of this inhumane conditions,” she told Vukani.

Lizeka said she joined the group because there was no movement for development in Gugulethu.

She said of all the areas, Gugulethu seems to have been forgotten when it comes to housing development.

“The government should provide us with houses or land so we can build on our own. We are ready to put up our own structures because all we want is houses,” she said.