Crackdown on Philippi squatters

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iol news pic Marikana squatters Philippi inlsa Violence erupted at Marikana informal settlement in Philippi when law enforcement officers started breaking down shacks. Picture Brenton Geach

Cape Town - Squatters on private land in the Marikana in Philippi were served another court order to leave the property on Wednesday morning.

The property - earmarked by a private developer for development - has been the arena for demolitions and rebuilding since Sunday when 100 shacks were first flattened by police.

The land owner had earlier obtained an urgent court order to remove the squatters.

On Wednesday morning, Tumi Ramahlele, a resident who serves as an informal community leader, said a large number of city law enforcement officers had gathered in the township.

He repeated that the residents would not budge from their homes.

Residents, who said they “had no other choice”, erected shacks again on Monday, prompting a second round of evictions, which turned into a stand-off when they pelted police with rocks.

Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said a stun grenade had been used to disperse the angry crowd.

On Tuesday new shacks were being built. While some were rebuilding what they lost, most were new arrivals. The township is growing and residents such as Ramahlele said this was something to celebrate.

Referring to JP Smith, the city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, he said: “He can try his luck, we are ready and we will not let them evict another resident.”

But Smith said it was not the city’s fight. “This is a battle between a private land owner and people moving illegally on to his land.”

City law enforcement would continue helping police with evictions until the process had been completed.

Smith said: “What they are doing is stealing and it’s costing this land owner a lot of money… The aim is to build something on that land that actually will aid the community through creating job opportunities, and this is really getting in the way.”

If shacks were rebuilt overnight, with residents giving spare materials to those who had lost their homes, they “will be demolished again”.

“We are executing a court order.”

For residents such as Siviwe Mdema there is no fear. “I have no other choice – if they destroy my home I will have to build it again.”

Others, such as Asanda Ndula, were still homeless early yesterday as they waited for new materials after their old materials were seized by police.

Safety and security director Richard Bosman said police had been unable to continue their part in evictions on Tuesday because resources had been sent to the Bellville Magistrate’s Court where a crowd gathered for the appearance of the leadership of the Ses’Khona Human Rights Movement.

* The city has welcomed a Constitutional Court ruling that Marikana land invaders had no chance of success in appealing against a Supreme Court of Appeal finding.

This year the city demolished informal structures on privately owned land at Marikana. The land invaders went to the Western Cape High Court which declared the city’s actions “unconstitutional and unlawful”.

After the Supreme Court of Appeal found in the city’s favour, the invaders approached the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal against that finding. But last Thursday that court refused that request, saying the application had no prospects of success.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said the city’s actions “in protecting private property from land invaders is compliant with its constitutional obligations”.

kieran.legg @inl.co.za

The Argus



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