COMMUNAL HOME: Inside the ‘super shack’ in Mfuleni where up to 200 people live together. Picture: Sisonke Mlamla
Cape Town - Land invaders in Mfuleni have built a “super shack” in which 200 people live to act as a fortress against attempts to remove them. They say it’s easier to defend “as there is safety in numbers”.

Community leader Gcobani Ntilashe said: “Residents are not building shacks to cause trouble, but because they have no place to stay.

“After the 16 March evictions, we decided to build this shack because we don’t want to be homeless. We decided to come together to fight our battle,” said Ntilashe.

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“When law enforcement took everything we had, we gathered and collected materials from neighbours to build this shack.”

Nomakhwezi Ndabeni, one of the “super shack” dwellers, pleaded with the City of Cape Town. “Our lives are at risk here, many people come here when they are drunk, criminals always attempt to rob us in this place. We stay with sick people, we even have a pregnant woman.”

This shack has been in the area for four months and houses people ranging from a 10-month-old baby to a woman aged 59.

Nonkosi Magxala, another resident, said: “The shack becomes jam-packed in the evening when residents return from work and from job-hunting. We sleep on the sandy floor, fully dressed,” she said. “We visit clinics almost every day because of the infections and the contagious diseases we get by living in this shack.”

City of Cape Town spokesperson Jean-Marie de Waal said the City would continue to act against illegal land grabs “irrespective of what the land is earmarked for”.

“The City does not have the resources to cater for the provision of basic and emergency services when unplanned settlements are formed or expand.”

She said services earmarked in other areas are often jeopardised, and those who are registered and waiting for a housing opportunity may also suffer. “Sometimes the land is not fit for humans to live on. For instance, it may be prone to extreme flooding.”

The “super shack” dwellers’ lawyer, Thulasive Twalo, said the matter would be before the court on June 20.

@SISONKE_MD

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Cape Argus