‘Illegal’ Masi shacks torn down

Cape Town-151215-Law Enforcement officers demolished houses in Masiphumelele they said were built illegally. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams

Cape Town-151215-Law Enforcement officers demolished houses in Masiphumelele they said were built illegally. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams

Published Dec 16, 2015


About 1 000 people were left homeless and one person was arrested when the City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit demolished structures erected on an open field and in bushes in Masiphumelele on Tuesday.

The unit also removed 1 600 pegs used to mark plots where people intended to build shacks

Structures had been built on the open field and in the bushes after people affected by a recent fire could not rebuild their homes because there was no space left “as the site was being re-blocked”.

The residents said community leaders had told them over the weekend they should go ahead and build their shacks on the field.

Nomacebiso Tukulu, 30, said that she was shocked on Tuesday when the Anti-Land Invasion Unit, backed up by police, tore their homes down and refused to let them take their possessions.

But mayoral committee member for Human Settlement Benedicta van Minnen said most of the shacks were built on privately owned land and by opportunistic backyarders from Masiphumelele, who were not affected by the fire.

She acknowledged that some of the shacks built on the private land were those of fire victims.

Van Minnen said the fire victims and backyarders “have been erecting structures illegally and illegally pegging off land, on vacant land, near to the area where the fire took place”.

“Many meetings have taken place with this group advising them that they are illegally constructing structures and to give them the opportunity to remedy the situation.

“However, the situation remained unchanged and subsequently notices were issued to a number of the individuals,” said Van Minnen.

“These structures were built by outsiders who were not inhabitants of Masi (Masiphumelele).

“So they were taking a chance to occupy spaces. I am informed by staff that none of them were people from Masi,” said Van Minnen.

She said as a result the Anti-Land Invasion Unit removed approximately 178 illegal structures and 1 600 pegs.

Van Minnen said fire victims were provided accommodation at the Masiphumelele community hall, but chose to stay with friends instead.

She said they would be accommodated within the Masiphumelele informal settlement.

“The people cannot be removed somewhere,” she said.

Tukulu, who was already staying on the open field with two of her young children, said the Anti-Land Invasion Unit came in the morning and started demolishing houses.

“Where are we expected to rebuild our houses because there is no longer spaces in the informal settlement where we used to live.

“This is saddening. We were starting to settle with my children – now this.

“I don’t know where we are going to stay for the night with my children and I have no family around here,” she said.

Police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk said one person was arrested for public violence and would appear in court this week.

“You must remember that there is a court order for Masiphumelele people not to build houses on that land. They have contravened that court order,” said Van Wyk.

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Cape Times

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