Court orders removal of shacks on railway in Langa
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Cape Town - Prasa has been granted a court order to evict residents from the Siyahlala informal settlement after they built shacks on the railway tracks in Langa.
The order was granted on Friday by the Cape Town High Court and the residents are expected to be moved to another piece of land on a farm in Stellenbosch Road, Eerste River.
In February, Prasa issued shack dwellers with 10-day notice to vacate the tracks of the Cape Town Central Line in order for it to resume the train service.
This was ignored and the railway agency headed to court to seek an interdict.
“The train service was first disrupted in Langa in November 2019 after the cables were stolen,” said Prasa board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane.
“Covid-19 then hit and the country was placed under alert level 5 and trains were not moving. Criminals saw this as an opportunity to steal cables and people also started building on the railway line.”
He said that the removal of the shacks would assist them in their plans to bring back the train service to better the lives of workers in Cape Town.
“A piece of land was identified in Eerste River, we will be to start fixing trains so that people can have added option of transport.”
Siyahlala was established in 2016 on Prasa land, not far from the Langa train station. Shacks were first set up around an old railway line, but the settlement grew and eventually encroached on the Central Line as trains had not been operating since October 2019.
In February, community leader Qhamani Macuala said there were about 5 500 shacks in Siyahlala.
He said the residents were willing to move, provided they were taken to a suitable location.
“We heard about the court order and we were told where we are moving to. What we are not sure of is whether we are going to move with our shacks or moving to a temporary relocation area. We have not been shown the area we are moving to but we told them that we need basic services like water, toilets and electricity.”
The order does state that the relocation area will have basic services which are in accordance with the requirements set out in the Constitution of the republic.
The relocation to the farm is set to begin on November 26 and provision has to be made for the 112 school-going children. If the children cannot get enrolled in schools closer to the farm, the court ordered that transport be provided to them for the 2022 academic year.
Mbalula said he welcomed the court order.
“This clears the way for Prasa to resume work on the much-needed infrastructure upgrade of the Central Line and return to service commuter rail on this line. Thousands of our people rely on this service to commute to work and the closure of this line has had a significant impact on their livelihoods as other modes of transport are more expensive.”