Pretoria - Tear gas, rubber bullets, stones and the sound of hammers meeting corrugated iron were just some of details of the dramatic scenes witnessed in Soshanguve on Tuesday as illegal squatters went toe to toe with police and demolishers.
Insults were hurled as structures were torn down in Soshanguve’s Extension 6, with owners watching helplessly. The squatters had erected their structures on land where the government is building RDP houses.
They alleged that they were made to pay for the land and told that they would be given RDP houses once the construction was completed.
Thabo Mogale, a squatter, said he had been waiting for an RDP house since 1997, but nothing had happened. People from outlying areas have been given houses.
Mogale said the reason he decided to squat was because the government seemed to give squatters houses more quickly than those on waiting lists.
“The municipality does not go according to the lists it compiles. So we thought maybe if we place ourselves here they will move us into RDP houses. RDP houses are being constructed here and we don’t know who they are going to be given to.”
Things turned ugly in the late afternoon when SAPS and metro police officers arrived with a private security company to remove the dwellings.
People ran in all directions as Nyalas and the police, firing rubber bullets, made their way through the area.
Squatters said they did not understand why their structures were being demolished as they had paid for the land.
A woman, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said she had paid R16 000 for a piece of land.
“On Saturday a man told us to give him money before we could get land. We did, but on Wednesday our structures are being demolished and he is nowhere to be seen,” she said.
Another woman, who also asked not to be named, said she felt like she was still living under apartheid with government officials getting all the perks while voters and ordinary people were not being cared for.
She lashed out at President Jacob Zuma and the ANC, saying they did not care about their voters.
“I live in a small RDP house with my children,” she said.
“We are just trying to get our children land where they can build their houses, but they are demolishing our shacks. They can’t keep doing this to us. We are just trying to survive and better ourselves.
“They expect us to vote for them while they do this to us? Zuma is expanding his house in Nkandla with taxpayers’ money to accommodate his large family, but when we try to do the same they demolish our structures.”
Another woman returned from work to find demolishers ripping apart her neighbour’s shack.
She tried to save her shack, but her efforts were in vain. The teams arrived and within five minutes her shack had been razed.
She angrily hurled insults at the men.
“What gives you the right to destroy our structures which we bought with our hard-earned cash?
“We work for our own money and don’t depend on people’s taxes like you.
“Your day will come when the tables will be turned against you.” Efforts to get comment from the police were fruitless.