By Se-Anne Rall
The eThekwini Municipality would continue to forcibly remove people from informal settlements and into proper housing, Housing and Infrastructure Committee Chairperson S'bu Gumede said, in the wake of the demolition of shacks at the Motala Heights informal settlement in Pinetown at the weekend.
"As long as there are people that need to be removed, there will be such removals," he said.
He added that the council was battling to control the growth of slums.
"We have adopted a zero-tolerance attitude to control the amount of informal settlements, and with the pressure of 2010, we are trying to eradicate such settlements. When there are houses built for people from informal settlements, they do not want them and yet, when such removals occur, we as the council are seen as the harassers," said Gumede.
According to Philani Zungu, Deputy President of Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers' Movement), houses had been built at Nazareth, near Pinetown, for the shack dwellers - and some people had already moved into them.
However, Nazareth was too far away from places of work for others, he said.
"People were not given court or written orders to move. They were only given verbal warnings and were told that their shacks would be demolished, regardless of whether or not they moved.
"The question we want to pose to the municipality is: What must we do for those people? They have been here for so long and will not have the money to travel from Nazareth," said Zungu.
Derrick Fenner, of the Motala Development Committee, said the shacks destroyed had belonged to people who had moved to Nazareth and who had rented their shacks out to others. The police had later returned to demolish shacks that were being rebuilt.
Abahlali spokesperson Mnikelo Ndabankulu said the movement would obtain a court interdict against the municipality because it was illegal to forcibly remove the residents.
"We will continue fighting for the rights of the shack dwellers until the municipality listens to us.
"Why could they not have upgraded the place where the residents were? Instead, they are moving children further away from their schools, and parents away from their places of employment around the area," Ndabankulu said.