Residents rebuild demolished shacks

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Sifiso Mhlongo, left, assists Sthembiso Mkhwanazi to rebuild his shack after city officials dismantled more than 40 shacks at the Cato Crest informal settlement on Monday. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu

Durban -

Three days after the eThekwini Municipality demolished more than 40 shacks at Cato Crest’s Marikana informal settlement, the residents remained hard at work rebuilding their homes, vowing to stay put.

Compared to the mood on Monday, just hours after their homes were demolished; the atmosphere was calmer yesterday when the Daily News visited the settlement.

Under the blazing sun, men got about their work of rebuilding their shacks with some still a long way to go while others were making final touches.

Christiphora Lebelo, 18, who was left in tears after city officials had dismantled her mother’s shack, feared she might have to spend the night outside. With the help of a neighbour, Christiphora said they worked until about 9pm on Monday.

With only a few items that had gone missing, she said yesterday that most of their belongings were recovered.

Earlier this week, the shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo had accused the municipality of being in contempt of a court order for the eighth time this year, and of planning the evictions to coincide with the Christmas period, when access to courts was more difficult.

Mayor James Nxumalo, who spoke to the Daily News at the time, said the city was not in breach of the order and only demolished newly-built shacks which were compounding the housing backlog.

In August, Abahlali and 30 Cato Crest residents were granted an interdict preventing further demolitions.

Abahlali returned to court in September, after the municipality continued evictions, and secured an order restraining the council from demolishing their shacks and also preventing them from being evicted.

Abahlali have since been in and out of court to secure a contempt of court order against the municipality for allegedly ignoring this order.

Sihle Ncwane, 29, who had to find temporary accommodation in the settlement for his two-week-old baby girl, still had a long way to go with rebuilding before his daughter returned to live with him.

Ncwane said priority was given to the shacks occupied by women only, over the past two days.

“We had to help them first because we couldn’t let them sleep outside,” Ncwane said when asked why his shack still resembled a pile of rubble.

Many men have been sleeping in the bush since Monday, he said.

Also rebuilding his home on Thursday, Sthembiso Mhlongo said: “Even if they (municipality) come tomorrow, we will keep building, we don’t care. We have nowhere else to go.”

Residents said many shacks were still piles of wood because their occupants had left for their rural homes before the city officials arrived.

Some came back to take their belongings and will return in the new year.

Others’ belongings were taken in by neighbours for safekeeping pending their owners’ return.

Daily News

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