Backyarders refuse to vote

tafelsig may 19 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Riot police moved into Tafelsig to remove backyard dwellers who have clashed with authorities since Sunday. Picture: Brenton Geach

While millions of people across the city made their way to the polls on Wednesday, Tafelsig backyard dwellers refused to vote and faced off heavily armed police for the fourth day running.

Tensions simmered, with residents saying they were fed up with living in other people’s backyards and wanted to build houses on the land, which has been vacant for decades.

Since Sunday, backyarders and police have been involved in violent clashes after the backyarders occupied the field in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, on Saturday.

The field, which backyarders have called “New Horizons”, was littered with debris after the city’s anti-land invasion unit demolished people’s illegal structures.

As the morning went by, some residents made their way to the outskirts of the field to give support to the backyarders.

Soon residents spotted what they called “snipers” at the top of a hill overlooking the field.

They started whispering: “There’s the police, now they are going to start shooting at us again.”

On the other side of the field, dozens of police armoured vehicles pulled up, but stayed watching the backyarders from a distance.

By this time the crowd of residents had grown to around 500.

A small group of backyarders set a tyre alight, causing five armoured vehicles and around 200 police and metro police officers to begin moving towards them.

Residents left the field to avoid violence, and the backyarders retreated, but later they again come face to face with police.

The officers then started slowly retreating while the backyarders applauded and waved goodbye. The mood calmed down significantly and most people dispersed.

Shireen Samuels, a Tafelsig resident who supports the backyarders, said: “This land has been open for years, people just want a place to build houses.

“The gangsters commit crimes and murder on this field. Now when people want to build houses, the police act like this, but when there’s a murder here, you don’t see them going on like this.”

Terence Hosking, a community spokesman, cursed politicians and said people would not vote.

“They will not have our vote. Until someone gives us a piece of signed paper to say we can have the land, we will not give them our vote. Give us our land first,” he said. - Cape Times

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Xolani, wrote

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10:54am on 19 May 2011
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I feel nothing for these people because they leave their rural areas and flock the city. Now they don't vote and they are expecting the SA government to spend the resources of voting citizens on them?. If you don't vote, you remove your right to complain about any issues pertaining the country.

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Dudesky, wrote

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10:30am on 19 May 2011
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I feel for these ppl. Their plight seems so far back on the list. I hope someone hears their side of the story.

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Rico, wrote

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10:07am on 19 May 2011
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Stand your ground! If Malema can wear a R250k wrist watch , then houses can be built, If Zuma can buy his wives each R1 Million cars, then houses can be built , If the ministers can treat themselves to multi trillion rand luxuries , then houses can be built!

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Anton, wrote

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09:30am on 19 May 2011
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This is EXACTLY why you MUST vote! Vote for change, if you don't vote you allow the rot to continue, come ON people!

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Nikki.d, wrote

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09:10am on 19 May 2011
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I love the sound of that....NO LAND NO VOTE..

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Christine, wrote

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08:39am on 19 May 2011
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Hang in there guys!

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