Durban shack dwellers up in arms over demolitions
Durban - Shack dwellers in Durban’s Puntans Hill are up in arms over the demolition of their homes by the eThwekwini Municipality for the second time in two weeks.
On Tuesday the municipality destroyed more than 10 shacks in the area.
Community leader, Themba Mkhize, said some shacks had been torn down by people who said they had been sent by the municipality.
He said early last month 24 shacks were gutted by fire.
The victims had started to rebuild on the same spots where their original shacks had been built, when the municipality moved in to demolish.
“The municipality did not warn us of the intention to destroy our homes,” he said. Mkhize said last week when the municipality des- troyed their shacks, residents had demanded a meeting with them.
He said on Monday they went to the city hall and met municipal officials who promised to halt the demolitions. But at noon on Tuesday, residents were shocked when people who claimed to have been sent by the municipality moved in to continue with demolitions.
According to Mkhize, on questioning the demolishers, residents were told the demolishers were not aware of any agreement between residents and the municipality.
The community was already reeling from the February 8 fires, which destroyed some shacks, and had been busy rebuilding these.
Mkhize said: “This… will make it very hard for people to vote. If the issue isn’t resolved, people should not be surprised if we close down the roads in protest.”
Siphindile Msomi, 37, a victim of the fire, said she was not home when her newly rebuilt shack had been demolished. The mother of three said: “I am very angry. I sleep at a neighbour’s home… while making a plan to rebuild my shack for the third time.”
Another resident, Ntombizonke Xulu, 29, said her greatest wish was to be able to rebuild her home without having to face the fear of it being torn down by the municipality.
Concerned citizen, Gail Meyer, condemned the demolition. “I saw a cop standing observing the destruction of the homes. This will only result in more homeless, disgruntled people,” Meyer said.
Nigel Gumede, chairman of the municipality’s human settlements and infrastructure committee, said he found it highly unusual that homes had been demolished while people were rebuilding after a fire.
He said this only happened if the people had built their homes on someone else’s property. When shacks were destroyed by fire, a disaster management team was sent to make an assessment, he said. The team then made recommendations to the Human Settlements Department.
Mayor James Nxumalo was aware of the problem and had asked the municipality’s human settlements division to look into the matter.