Ntomboxolo Somdaka, spokesperson for human settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, said they have been engaging with the residents, relocating them one by one.
“Since 2013 we have been trying to relocate them to the Temporary Relocation Area in Delft, but they were refusing,” said Somdaka. The N2 Gateway Housing Project was originally launched in 2004, she said, with the goal of providing 22000 houses to accommodate people living in shacks and backyards along the N2 corridor and was described by the former housing minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, as the biggest single housing project ever undertaken in South Africa.
Somdaka said human settlements approved funding for 2886 houses to be built in Joe Slovo and 1664 houses had been completed and handed over to beneficiaries.
She said the department has since 2013 experienced a number of challenges in completing the project as some residents refused and blocked the path of construction.
“Reasons for the refusal include the travelling distance between Langa and Delft despite the fact that transport provisions were made and paid for,” said Somdaka. She made it clear that the delays forced the department to approach the court to obtain powers to forcefully remove the remaining families from the site to allow the development to go ahead.
Somdaka said the department is pleased the eviction went ahead smoothly without any resistance.
“This had been a financial burden to government and a delay to accelerate housing delivery. The process of building the remaining 88 structured of Phase 3A will go ahead immediately. It is expected to be completed in March. The next phase of the development will continue after the completion of Phase 3A.”
During the eviction, some residents were in tears, watching their homes being demolished. Some homes were demolished in the occupants’ absence.
One resident, Nobelithemba Zabezolo, 40, said she was using the demolished shack as her “stand” to sell fruit and vegetables.
“I am unemployed. I survive by selling fruit and vegetables, I don’t know where to go to sell now because my stand is gone,” Zabezolo said.
She said she lived with her children, 17-year-old Emihle, Samkelo, 11, and Sikhokele, 6, who were at school during the eviction.
The area was monitored by law enforcement, police and the anti-land invasion unit of the City.