Residents vow to return to Philippi

ct Phillippi East shack breakdown 5356 copy Courtney Africa RUINS: Busisiwe Ngwenze looks on as some residents of the Marikana informal settlement in Philippi East rebuild shacks that were taken down by the Anti-Land Invasion Unit. Photo: Courtney Africa

Xolani Koyana

IN BITTERLY cold conditions, Zoe Zulu spent a night in a leaking church with her five-year-old daughter and one-month old son after her shack was demolished by the city’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit on Wednesday.

Zulu is part of a group of more than 100 people who have erected shacks on municipal-owned land on Symphony Way in Philippi East. The informal settlement has been dubbed Marikana.

They have vowed not to vacate the land despite being forcefully removed by the Anti-Land Invasion Unit three times in the past week.

After her structure was taken down, residents provided a mattress and blankets.

She was housed at a makeshift church with a leaking roof.

ct Phillippi East shack breakdown 5340 copy EVERY MOTHERS SON: Zoe Zulu with her one-month-old son Lithemba was sheltered at a makeshift church in Philippi East where she spent Wednesday night after her shack was demolished by the city's Anti-Land Invasion Unit. Courtney Africa

The Cape Times first reported on Zulu yesterday when she was pictured on her knees with her baby on her back and her five year old at her side. She was surrounded by members of the Land Invasion Unit.

“My son is sick now because it is really cold in here,” she said.

“He has been coughing through the night. I tried to protect them (the children) from the cold, but the church is leaking and the cement floor is cold. I got a few old mats outside to make it better.”

Before she put up her structure, the 36-year-old Zulu had been renting a shack in a backyard in Lower Crossroads, just across from where land had been occupied.

Her cousin had told her that people were building structures and that she would find a spot there.

The first time the Land Invasion Unit came “they saw I had children and didn’t demolish my shack. They said I could stay,” Zulu said.

“But on that day they didn’t even listen, they just took it down.

“I would rather die there. Where else must we go?”

Although it was cold, Zulu was grateful to the residents who had helped her family with shelter.

Others were not as fortunate as Zulu, spending Wednesday night on the dunes where the shacks had been erected.

Yesterday morning residents had already rebuilt some shacks, but the Anti-Land Invasion Unit returned to the scene.

Busisiwe Ngwenze was one of those who had to sleep in the open field. Her materials had been confiscated, forcing her to erect a make-shift tent using plastic sheets. “We are not going anywhere. They say that the land is council land, but we are also part of the city. They should be able to provide land for us, instead of building all these malls,” Ngwenze said.

She said most of the people who built shacks there came from backyards in Lower Crossroads, Nyanga and Philippi.

The City of Cape Town has previously said it would continue to take down illegal structures.

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