Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s anti-land invasion unit on Wednesday demolished shacks erected by protesting residents in Bo-Kaap, with officials accused of using pepper spray on community members.
Residents had erected the shacks on an open piece of land between Voetboog Road and Military Road in protest over a lack of housing in the area and against a new luxury development currently under construction in Lion Street. Residents on Wednesday claimed that officials were heavy handed and that at least two people were pepper sprayed.
Mayco member for informal settlements Xanthea Limberg said officials used pepper spray “in their defence” because residents had become hostile.
“The City can confirm that the anti-land invasion unit (ALIU) conducted an operation in Bo-Kaap on Wednesday, 11 July, 2018 and removed the illegally erected vacant structures. The community became hostile towards the ALIU staff and contractor during the operation, and the officials therefore had to make use of pepper spray in their defence. The City then immediately reported the matter to SAPS,” Limberg said.
The City also took the building materials with them.
The shacks were erected by fourth and fifth-generation Bo-Kaap residents who grew up in the area and now occupy congested homes, with parents, children and grandchildren living under one roof.
The residents, who call themselves the Bo-Kaap Disadvantaged Community, say they have been on the housing list for 20 or more years.
Earlier this week Masturah Adams, who runs the Boorhaanol Islam Movement in Bo-Kaap, said the only other option available to Bo-Kaap residents would be for them to be relocated outside of the city in areas where they won’t have access to schools or be able to work in the city centre.
“Low-cost housing must be made available for people of Bo-Kaap. If they’re located to areas outside the city, how can we be there to support them?
“The reason the tourists love Bo-Kaap is the people - our lifestyle and culture. Do we want to take that away from the people?” he asked.
“We’re creating prices for developers that are out of the reach for the people - is this class apartheid?”
Last week, Western Cape High Court Judge Robert Henney granted property developer Blok Urban Living’s interdict against “all other persons trespassing, unlawfully conducting themselves or attempting to trespass or unlawfully conduct themselves” from entering and disrupting construction on the site, in Lion Street, where the City had approved the development of 56 luxury residential units.
The SA Human Rights Commission had also been ordered to facilitate talks between developers and residents regarding concerns over construction in the area.