LET'S TALK: Mayor Patricia de Lille addressed backyarders, many of whom were responsible for illegal land invasions over the past week. Picture: Tracey Adams/ African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Calm has been restored in Gugulethu and Philippi after Mayor Patricia de Lille met with disgruntled residents who tried to invade vacant land belonging to private owners.

Violent protests over lack of adequate land for them to build houses on started in Philippi two weeks ago and spilled over to Gugulethu last Thursday.

The unrest resulted in roads along Govan Mbeki being barricaded and parts of the NY1, 108 and NY6 being closed.

Pupils missed a day of school in two schools and City property and local businesses were damaged. Four people were arrested. Phindile Nazo, one of the Gugulethu backyarders, alleged that the landowners failed to consult with them when purchasing the land.

“We are tired of empty promises. We have been on waiting lists for a long time, we have been fooled and told there is land available and to build houses for us. We are here because of the empty promises.

"We are not here to ask anyone's permission, we are here to tell the City we will reoccupy the land until we see something is being done,” Nazo said.

He said the land they had been occupying in NY1 had been open since he was a child. He questioned how people owned land, but they were never informed it was being sold and how the City and businessmen claimed they would build shopping centres without consulting the community.

After the meeting in Gugulethu Sports Complex, backyard dwellers who were not completely satisfied with the mayor's answers went back to the land and built their informal structures.

Odwa Gcora from Phola Park informal settlement in Philippi said: “We decided to build on a open field because after numerous fire incidents the City promised basic services, re-blocking and houses to us. Last year, after six family members died in a shack fire the city came again and made promises. We are tired of living the way we do.”

De Lille promised to respond to the grievances tomorrow and promised to go with the community leaders when approaching landowners.

Gugulethu Development Forum acknowledged the current housing backlog, which affected Gugulethu backyarders. However, they condemned the violent protest.

Cape Argus