Cape Town - Police and city officials were pelted with stones and other missiles as shacks erected during a land invasion in Enkanini in Khayelitsha were demolished on Sunday.
The invasion followed a meeting of some of the area’s backyard dwellers who said they could no longer afford the rent their landlords wanted.
It was at the meeting that they decided to occupy an open field which the city owned.
Police fired rubber bullets and lobbed stun grenades to disperse a crowd of protesters who
burnt rubble, tyres and set alight electric poles on Mew Way after the city’s anti-land invasion team demolished 24 shacks on Sunday.
Police spokesman FC Van Wyk said no one had been arrested and injuries were reported.
“We thought we needed to do something about this open field because bad things happened here, that is one of the reasons we decided to build here,” said a backyard resident who refused to give her name.
“Another reason is why should we suffer paying rents we can’t afford when there is available land here.
“We are tired of living in these conditions and we want places of our own.”
She said the backyard residents had raised their grievances with community leaders, but had never received feedback.
“Our leaders say they don’t get anything positive from the City of Cape Town officials. This means no one really cares about us.
“We will forever live like this if we don’t take action.
“We won’t stop building o
n this land despite them shooting at us.
“We want them to take us seriously,” she said.
Motorists were forced to use alternative routes as the protesters threatened to stone them.
Another resident Michael Koba said the police should have addressed them before firing rubber bullets.
“We are backyard dwellers who are looking for help,” he said.
“The police just came and shot at us.
“If the officials had come and talked to us, we would not have been violent.
“They treat us like animals. They do not need to shoot at us because we are not violent people,” he added.
Koba said the decision to invade the land had been taken on Friday. He said the meeting was organised by residents themselves.
“A child was murdered here on this land in May,” Koba said
“People do all sorts of things here and that affects us. Our children are not safe anymore,” he said.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said a resident in the area had informed officials about the land invasion.
“After we received information that there were people invading the land, we sent officials to the area,” Smith said
“The land belongs to the city and we need to protect it.
“There were more than 800 people on the land and 24 structures were built, he added.
Sunday’s eviction came a day after hundreds of families had reoccupied an open field in Marikana informal settlement near Philippi.
The residents, mostly backyard dwellers had been evicted four times since August 8.