Siyavuya Mzantsi and Zara Nicholson
MORE than 1 000 residents, including young children, of Zola township in Strand, were left destitute when 450 shacks were demolished yesterday.
The demolitions followed a court order obtained by the landowner, SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral). The police said seven people who protested against the demolition had been arrested.
Most residents had been occupying the land for about a month, while others had erected their shacks a week ago.
They were prevented from taking their building materials, which were loaded on to trucks and removed.
“I thought I finally had a place that my children could call home, but now it is destroyed.
“I had only moved in for about a week from having rented a place. The sad part of this is that they never notified or gave us a notice or we could have moved,” said father of two Andries Molupe.
He did not know where his family would sleep, he said. ”I just came from work because I got a call from my friend telling me that our homes were being destroyed.
“I mean, it would have been fair if they had notified us before doing this. Think of how my kids will feel when
they come from school to find out they have no place to sleep,” said Molupe.
Another resident, Sebenzile Ntlanga, said all of his belongings had “disappeared”.
“What angers me is that I was not even at home when they destroyed it. There were five of us staying in that shack. All of our stuff is missing…
”Police shot us with rubber bullets because we demanded they release three people they arrested,” he said.
Police spokesman Andre Traut said: “In total, seven people comprising five adult females and two adult males were arrested for participating in an illegal gathering.”
Richard Bosman, the city’s executive director for safety and security, said city law enforcement officers provided assistance to the police during yesterday’s operation.
“The SAPS were the lead agency and Sanral obtained a court order. We were called by the SAPS to assist in case there was any unrest, but there were no major issues. The demolitions were done by Sanral’s own contractor,” Bosman said.
He said the city had dispatched 40 law enforcement officers, who also monitored an adjacent piece of land owned by the city.
A representative of the Economic Freedom Fighters had allegedly told people to move on to the land, but EFF provincial spokesman Nazier Paulsen said while they had campaigned in the area and addressed the importance of land, their message could have been misinterpreted.
Sanral did not respond to a request for comment.