25/04/2016. Mamelodi residents forcefully build on an unoccupied land in Pinnarspoort. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - Residents of Mamelodi East have once again decided to invade plot 44 in Pienaarspoort and erect their shacks, saying they are tired of waiting for the City of Tshwane to give them land to build on.

Community members were said to have begun building their shacks on the land on Friday.

By Tuesday afternoon, trucks and cars carrying loads of wood, corrugated iron, window frames and people with shovels were still heading towards the land in their numbers to peg their own stands and build their shacks.

One resident who had all but completed his shack and had already partly furnished his new home said he was relieved to be finished.

“I only brought a few of my belongings, because you never know when the police will come to remove us again,” he said.

“We’re not going to lose hope no matter how many times they kick us out. We are tired of having to rent accommodation when there is land here for us to build on.”

Schoolchildren wandered around carrying shovels, while old women hammered the ground and mothers held their small children while their partners built the shacks.

Community representative Martin Matlala said the community would not be deterred despite having been forcefully removed from the site by Tshwane Metro Police officials 15 times in the past three years.

“We won’t lose hope that we too will have a place to call our own. The community is tired of empty promises that the city officials make so when they don’t honour their promises we come back,” he said.

“We are not fighting with the city or anyone else, all we want is land to build on,” said Matlala.

The community leader said they had already made plans for water tankers and were looking into bringing portable toilets to use temporarily. “The city is always slow to deliver so we won’t wait for them to bring us water or toilets, hence we have made plans of our own. The most important thing for us now is to have places to live in. Things like electricity will be dealt with later.”

Matlala said they had to prevent people erecting new shacks as there were already close to 5 000 people setting up their shacks.

“People are still coming in their numbers to get a piece of land. But we just want to see how well we can accommodate those already here and then we will open up for the others.”

They were expecting the city to ambush them in the middle of the night or in the early morning hours, he said, but they will keep coming back until they were given land.

“Councillors are selling these plots for their own benefit so why can’t we have a piece of land? Our people are tired of renting back rooms,” said the community leader.

The community invaded the plot last year on January 17, heeding the Economic Freedom Fighters’ initial calls for land grabs. Their victory was short-lived as the Tshwane metro police caught wind of the land grab and demolished at least 100 shacks a few hours after they had been erected.

Clashes ensued, resulting in the metro police firing rubber bullets at the illegal settlers. The community retaliated by hurling stones at police.

The City of Tshwane’s mayoral spokesman Blessing Manale said they were aware of the renewed land invasion and said plans were afoot to curb the invasion.

“We are deploying our Metro Police Land Invasion Unit to effect eviction from the area. We will give the dwellers until today (Tuesday) 12 noon to voluntarily refrain from erecting any shacks and structures.

“We remain committed to the development of proper and sustainable human settlements,” said Manale.

He said the city believed that the recent land invasion is aimed at destabilising current programmes under the Re Aga Tshwane Programme of proclaiming townships and formalising existing informal settlements while continuing to provide rudimentary services and transitional residential units where it decided to relocate residents.

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Pretoria News