Langa resident Dumisani Mgcina could only stand and watch as the sheriff of the court led a group equipped with hammers and crowbars tear down his dwelling yesterday.
He and 17 other families had refused to move from a piece of land in Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa to make way for the next phase of the N2 Gateway housing development.
The Department of Human Settlements had turned to the Western Cape High Court, which ruled these families be evicted after having delayed the project since 2013.
Mgcina said he was not informed that the eviction would take place, and the structure was also his business.
“I have been here since 2003 and I couldn’t find work, so I began selling fruit, vegetables and chips to earn a living. This is very sad as they said they are moving us to Delft and I don’t know what’s waiting for us there. I will have to start over or find work,” he said.
Residents had moved some of their belongings from their homes as their structures were destroyed.
Mabelithemba Zabezola said she and her three children lived in a structure and also used it to run her business of selling braai meat.
Provincial Department of Human Settlements spokesperson Ntomboxolo Makhoba-Somdaka said residents refused to relocate to Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) in Delft and had been a financial burden to the government, and a delay to accelerate housing delivery.
She said the process of building the remaining 88 structures, of Phase 3A, would go ahead immediately and is expected to be completed by March 2019.
She said the project was launched in 2004, with the goal of providing 22 000 houses to accommodate people living in shacks and backyards, along the N2 corridor.
The department approved funding for 2 886 houses to be built in Joe Slovo. To date, 1 664 houses had been completed and handed over to beneficiaries.
“Since 2013, we have experienced a number of challenges in completing the project, as some residents refused to move and blocked the path for construction,” she said.