Shack dwellers in Bonela are not deterred by another bout of demolitions, saying they are prepared to die for their “right” to build shelter on the government land.
Mere hours after some of the dwellings were destroyed by the eThekwini Municipality's anti-land invasion unit on Sunday morning, rebuilding for those who had material and tools had already started.
The latest demolitions come after the Durban High Court on Friday postponed a case brought by Abahlali baseMjondolo, interdicting the municipality from destroying the shacks of more than 240 people in seven informal settlements around the city.
Abahlali’s Ndabo Mzimela said they considered the postponement a victory, as the people named in the court order would continue to be protected, while the city wanted the interdict to be set aside.
Their homes were marked before last week’s evictions.
Zama Nene is named in the order but she was not home to confirm her name and get the mark last week, so she came back to find her home in pieces.
She rebuilt, only for it to be broken down again yesterday.
“It was too late by the time I told them my name is in the court order but they did apologise and mark my house so they know not to destroy it again,” she said.
The security guard will now have to buy more material and find more money to pay someone to build for her while she continues to pay R1 200 for a rental shack behind the home of a Bonela resident.
High rent had also driven out Nhlanhla Mtshali. He said the only alternative to rebuilding time and time again would be to go back home – away from job opportunities – and starve.
Shiny new corrugated iron sheets, which had been his roof, lay stacked on the ground.
“This time they came with axes and hacked out material to make sure we can’t use the stuff again. I am still paying for this material,” said Mtshali.
Although his name is not in the court order, he believes he is protected by the constitution which states in section 23:3: “No one may be evicted from their homes, or have their homes demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.”
Permanent residents of Bonela, however, believed land grabs were unlawful.
Community activist Omi Nair said on Friday they picketed on Margaret Mncadi Avenue (formerly Victoria Embankment) near where Abahlali were demonstrating, because they believe all should abide by the laws of the country.
“If they read our posters, they would have seen that we are not against them having shelter, we are in favour of housing. But it should be formal housing in safe areas where they are connected to amenities legally.”
The picket included residents of Chatsworth, Isipingo and Bonela among others, where land invasions had sprouted.
Meanwhile, the city was doing all it could to resolve the matter, said Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer.
She met "stakeholders" including the Metro Police and SAPS regarding Bonela, but finalisation of the matter depended on the courts for now, she said.