Tensions run high as police and land invaders clash in Durban
Daily News / 2 October 2017, 11:50am / Mphathi Nxumalo
Durban - Cato Manor shack dwellers slept in the open at the weekend after their shacks were demolished by the eThekwini Municipality’s land invasion unit.
The destruction of the shacks led to violent clashes between police and residents.
One of those who had their shack demolished was Kholiswa Gwele. The 39-year-old said she was inside her shack with her three children when the land invasion unit arrived. She said she was shot with rubber bullets.
“Neighbours quickly took away my children when they saw I was being attacked,” Gwele said.
She said she was dragged outside and assaulted.
Gwele said they had spent the weekend sleeping outside because they had nowhere to go. She lit a fire to keep warm with her children.
Thapelo Mohapi of the shack dwellers’s organisation, Abahlali baseMjondolo, said the land invasion unit had destroyed people’s shacks.
He said the movement did not condone any form of violence, but that residents had acted out of desperation.
“Cato Manor will continue to be a war zone, until when?” Mohapi asked.
According to a Durban High Court order granted earlier this year, certain people from various informal settlements around Durban were protected from having their shacks demolished.
Last month, Judge Mohini Moodley called for the municipality, Abahlali and the Department of Human Settlements to resolve the issue and postponed the matter until further notice.
Yesterday, human settlements spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said the department was waiting for a return court date and the order was still in effect.
He said the land in dispute was “environmentally sensitive” and was currently managed by the Durban Metropolitan Open Space System. The department had been talking to a committee that represented affected Bonela residents.
Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer said they were also waiting for the matter to go back to court.
She said the land invasion unit had torn down shacks because some of the people who were moving in were not covered by the court order.
Peer said: “Any demolitions now are not against those who have been verified (as being protected by the court order).”
She said the court order prevented the construction of new shacks.
Peer said Abahlali officials had told her that people not covered by the order were moving in.
Councillor Warren Burne said it was a volatile situation this weekend after new shacks were demolished between Wiggins, Carlow and Blinkbonnie roads.
“The land invasion unit has a list of 35 people who are supposed to be there To prevent further disruptions I will suggest the LIU takes down the names of the new lots of people before they demolish their shacks. Relevant action can be taken against them in court,” he said.