Durban - IT'S A tug of war between eThekwini Municipality and the people they call land invaders. However, the invaders claim to be occupants of an informal settlement and allege that they experienced brutality at the hands of a contracted security company and the city’s Land Invasion Unit.
On Wednesday shackdwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo alerted the media, saying that Khenana informal settlement in Cato Crest was under attack by a security company and the Land Invasion Unit were allegedly firing live ammunition.
On Friday, Azania residents had 17 of their shacks demolished by the security company and the unit, and it was alleged that live ammunition was used.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said under no circumstances would those acting on behalf of the city use live ammunition.
“Our responsibility is to prevent land invasion, not to kill land invaders,” said Mayisela.
On Wednesday shackdwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo alerted the media, saying that Khenana informal settlement in Cato Crest was under attack by a security company and the Land Invasion Unit were allegedly firing live ammunition
He said if anyone had evidence, they could use it to institute legal action.
Mayisela was sent a video taken at the end of March during the demolition of shacks. In the clip an officer from the security company is seen with a hand gun advancing towards a resident filming him.
The resident can be heard saying he has lived there for years and there is nothing the officer can do to him.
“You can shoot me if you want," he says.
As the officer quickly moves towards him the resident backs away, still filming, with more than one officer now advancing towards him.
Multiple shots are heard as the resident continues filming.
Mayisela said he was aware of the video and after discussing it with Abahlali president Sbu Zikode, he had encouraged the movement to provide evidence.
“If they have used live ammunition then you should have casings and cartridges. Take those to the police station and open a case. To this day there has been nothing,” he said.
Mayisela said the city had 519 informal settlements with infrastructure.
“Why would we target 15 or 20 shacks?" he asked. "The courts ruled in our favour to demolish any new structures,” he added.
Mayisela said the municipality had a responsibility to maintain order and they were demolishing unoccupied, partially built new structures.
Azania resident Mafa Zwane, of Abahlali baseMjondolo, said their clothes were burnt during the demolition by the security company officers.
“They take out the furniture first and take a picture, so they can say its an unoccupied shack. They demolish partly, then take a picture so they can say it was partially built structure,” he said.
Azania residents had decided to erect one big structure instead of rebuilding their homes, he said. They built three more communal structures as 23 people were sleeping in the first.