Durban - Squatters at the Cato Crest informal settlement have already started rebuilding the shacks the eThekwini Municipality demolished on Wednesday morning.
About 150 families were left without shelter after their homes were destroyed. While this was happening, some of them were busy scrounging for re-usable material to rebuild their homes.
Shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo said it would be going to the Constitutional Court to stop the municipality from repeatedly demolishing the structures.
“We have six court orders from the Durban High Court interdicting the municipality from evicting people. The only option is to approach the highest court in the land,” said a representative of the movement Ndabo Mzimela.
The municipality’s spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said about 110 shacks were demolished on Wednesday. “This is part of an ongoing operation by the municipality’s land invasion department aimed at eradicating the mushrooming of informal settlements and preventing the illegal invasion of land,” he said.
“The court order issued by the Durban High Court last year stipulates that only 11 structures that were already established at Cato Crest should not be demolished,” Mofokeng said.
He said that the municipality was working on a plan to relocate all shack dwellers and eliminate informal settlements. “We urge people not to illegally invade land, as the relevant law enforcement agencies will continue to act against illegal activities.”
Residents of the settlement hurled insults at the city’s work crews who were tearing down their shacks. To deter any rebuilding, the workers smashed corrugated iron sheeting with axes and crowbars.
Heavily armed SAPS and Metro police officers were on standby.
Resident Le Dlamini, 60, who is diabetic, said she had been preparing breakfast when a neighbour told her to grab her belongings because crews were destroying shacks nearby.
“I only managed to grab a handbag and stuffed it with my medication. Fortunately a pension card and my identity document are always inside,” she said.
“All my furniture was destroyed. I need to take medication but I can’t on an empty stomach.” Dlamini said she had spent much time and money going several times to the city’s housing department to apply for an RDP house. She still does not know if she will get one.
Nokuthula Ngcamu, 60, a pensioner, said she was woken by the sound of a hammer and did not have time to get her medication.
“I quickly jumped outside to see what was going on. I pleaded with them to give me time to collect other valuables but that fell on deaf ears as they continued to push down my shack,” she said.
Two mothers complained that they were busy feeding their babies when the land invasion crews arrived.
Tholakele Msomi, 36, said she had been feeding porridge to her 5-month-old son, Orlando, when the mayhem started.
Abahlali BaseMjondolo leader, Bandile Mdlalose, who is on R5 000 bail, appeared in Durban Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday to face charges of public violence during a protest in Cato Manor last year.
But the matter had to be adjourned to the end of the month after Mdlalose’s lawyer recused himself, citing a conflict of interest.
Mdlalose said the case would be moved from the magistrate’s court to the regional court.