Western Cape / 24 May 2018, 10:43am / Monique Duval and Rusana Philander
Cape Town - Parkwood resident Kim McLean, 58, says after raising three children in a one-bedroomed council house, she is gatvol.
Since the weekend, residents of the Cape Town suburb, many of them backyard dwellers, have been protesting about the dire shortage of housing in the area.
Violent housing protests continued on Wednesday and the M5 highway was once again closed as more than 1 000 residents and police and law enforcement officers clashed.
While most protesters were armed with sticks, stones, petrol bombs and even golf balls, journalists spotted several men with guns, firing at police.
Fifteen people were arrested for public violence.
Shortly after 10am, a large group of Law Enforcement officers and public order police moved onto the open field in Walmer Street to demolish more than 100 structures.
Despite a visit by Human Settlements MEC, Bonginkosi Madikizela, on Tuesday, residents continued to erect shelters, saying they had nowhere to go.
McLean said: “We were so peaceful this morning and they just came and took everything. They didn’t even want to give us our blankets back."
“The minister was here but what they don’t want to say is that a lot of us were removed from places like Constantia, Diep River and Lakeside under forced removals.
“I was moved to Parkwood in Sub A (Grade 1) and have raised three children in a one-bedroom house.
“And we don’t live for free, we must pay the council every month. The children are big now and we are on the housing list for years. There is no housing developments for Parkwood but there is a big open plot where we can live.”
Another resident Naomi Salie, 64, said: “We were still sleeping in our new homes when the law enforcement officials came and broke my structure down. They also took all our belongings and some of them, they damaged. Among the things they took was my fridge and chairs.”
Another evictee, 18-year-old Jaden Hendricks, said he had never lived in a conventional home. “As long as I can remember, we have always stayed in wendy houses. I have never lived in a house in my life. My mother has been on the waiting list (for a home)for the past 30 years. As a young person I wish that they (authorities) would build houses for us.” Gadieja Davids, 56, said her family’s identity documents had gone missing when their informal home was torn down by the law enforcement officers.
Some Parkwood residents have approached the public protector concerning their rights to housing.
SA Human Rights Commission commissioner Chris Nissen said people in the area were desperate for housing. “This is why they took their complaints to the public protector. I don’t agree with illegal occupations, but people have rights to housing.
“There were also evictions on Tuesday in Ocean View. The alternative they gave to the people they evicted was to move to Blikkiesdorp, which is 40km away. One of the families that was evicted had a two-month-old baby,” he said.
Law Enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said a total of 111 structures were removed in Parkwood by the anti-land invasion unit on Wednesday.
As the structures were removed, residents hurled stones, golf balls and petrol bombs at officers who retaliated by firing rubber bullets and teargas into the crowd.
By 11am, officers had managed to contain the crowd inside Parkwood and Prince George Drive/M5 was shut down for several hours.
Thick clouds of smoke developed as residents burnt tyres.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana says 15 arrests were made.
“The structures were demolished. A total of 15 people, five women and 10 men aged between 21 and 49 were arrested and once they are charged for public violence, they will appear in the Wynberg Magistrates’ Court. Police will remain in the area until law and order has been restored.”