Tears and anger as shacks pulled down

Cape Town - Residents pelted law officers with stones after shacks were torn down - and fled as rubber bullets and stun grenades were fired in response on Monday.

One woman, who broke down as her home was razed, assaulted and chased a City of Cape Town official leading the demolitions in the Marikana informal settlement in Philippi.

Nosango Mjelo chases law enforcement officials and anti-land invasion unit members after her shack was demolished in Marikana, Philippi. Photo: Brenton Geach. Credit: CAPE ARGUS

Scores of families had settled on the privately owned land on Friday.

The owners secured an urgent interdict to prevent building on the land.

A hundred of the shacks, in Symphony Way, were pulled down on Sunday and the building materials removed, police spokesman FC van Wyk said.

More shacks sprang up overnight. Police, members of the city anti-land invasion unit and law enforcement officials demolished these.

Nosango Mjelo wept as she watched the land invasion unit team tear down her home. When they began to remove her building materials, she tried to stop them.

“Why are you doing this to us?” she said desperately. “Because we are poor, you are taking advantage… That we are here means we cannot afford to pay rent.”

Mjelo picked up a stick and lunged at the officials, shouting: “Get away from my house, why are you taking my stuff?”

Suddenly other residents - numbering about 300 - began throwing stones at the police.

Nolulamile Tywabi, a mother of five, said: “I have nowhere to go. I came here because I was a backyard dweller and couldn’t afford to pay rent while taking my children to school.”

Residents said they had moved from Lower Crossroads, Khayelitsha, Isiqalo, Nyanga and Philippi. They had not orchestrated the occupation.

The mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said: “Reports on the ground suggest this land invasion is politically orchestrated by Ses’Khona (People’s Rights Movement).

“If these allegations are true, it would suggest this is a continuation of the lawlessness they have sown across Cape Town - as we have witnessed in Lwandle.”

The landowners had obtained an order.

“The City of Cape Town condemns the invasion of private and public land as it is of paramount importance to maintain a fair and systematic housing delivery regime.”

Ses’khona leader Sithembele Majova said the group did not encourage the occupation of land.

The city accused the movement whenever people settled on private land, he said.