Dismantling of shacks sparks violent protest
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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town condemned repeated illegal land invasions in Mfuleni on Monday after violent protests erupted when police, the City of Cape Town’s anti-land invasion unit and law enforcement tore down about 45 shacks built on land earmarked for development.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the land invasion had initially started with 50 people at 3am but the number grew to about 600 by on Monday morning.
“The group of people grew to about 600 and was violent as they started throwing stones. The shacks were being demolished by the contractors. When being dispersed, three petrol bombs and five litres of petrol were confiscated,” Van Wyk said.
At least 18 people were arrested for public violence as a result of the protest.
Mother of two Akhona Sekundla, 24, said she had “nowhere to go” and had “nothing to feed her family” after her home was destroyed.
“They took all of my belongings and I feel wronged. They were shooting rubber bullets. One of the women protesting was arrested. They just carried our stuff away and I feel like I am stranded,” she said.
Khanyiswa Mdunyelwa, who has a three-year-old disabled daughter, said she was distraught.
“I don’t feel right. I have been looking for a house for a long time,” she said.
In a statement, Mayco member for Human Settlements Benedicta van Minnen said the city would monitor the area to discourage further illegal land occupation.
“The city has thwarted constant attempts to invade serviced plots in this area which have been earmarked for occupation by legitimately identified beneficiaries of the Bardale human settlements development,” she said.
Van Minnen said land invasions resulted in “poor access to city services, constant flooding, high crime rates and poor connections with economic opportunities”.
She said the increase of informal settlements have made the city’s efforts in providing services “a great challenge” and urged residents “not to be duped by political organisations driving a financial or political agenda”.
“Cape Town has the highest urbanisation rate in the country. It is imperative that we uphold a fair and equitable system of delivering and accelerating the provision of housing opportunities and other services to those in need and to our most vulnerable residents. The unplanned proliferation of informal settlements makes this task a great challenge,” she said.
“The attempted land invasions do not have an impact on the timeframe for occupation of the legitimate beneficiaries and we will do everything in our power to ensure that the timeframe for occupation remains on track,” Van Minnen added.