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After mass demolitions land occupiers return to Wallacedene

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Family that was lawfully living on the land, but pushed out by occupiers, now lives in an Open Kadett.

Photo of a woman and a demolished shack
Nthuseng Mzaci, centre, said she frantically moved her cupboard, TV and dishes when she saw officials arrive. “I quickly took my belongings out before they damage them as they did the last time they came here,” she said. Photo: Vincent Lali
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After the City demolished as many as 600 shacks in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein, early last week, by Saturday the land was once again crowded with shacks. The City proceeded again to demolish shacks this week.

Land occupier Bukiwe Bhatyo said, “Law enforcement can shoot me and destroy my building materials, but I will build my shack again and stay here.”

Nthuseng Mzaci said the constant demolitions have affected her two children’s mental health. “My kids [in grade one and five] quickly wake up at night when they hear someone hit a corrugated iron zinc … thinking that the officials are destroying their home,” she said.

Nokulunga Koli quickly dismantled her own shack so that her building material would not get damaged.

Ntombovuyo Jola said she begged officials and started crying. They left her shack alone. She has two young children.

Community leader David Faku said residents rebuilt their shacks because they have nowhere else to go. “We can’t go back to our rented backyard shacks because we are jobless and have no money to pay rent … If the city doesn’t want us to stay here, it must tell us where we must go.”

Faku lives with his four kids, his sister, his wife and his sister-in-law.

“The government says we must use the [social] grant to buy food and clothes for our kids and take them to school. The grant is not meant for paying rent [as backyarders],” said Faku.

After the officials destroyed shacks on Tuesday last week, land occupiers turned their anger on two families from Joostenbergvlakte.

“Residents tore down their fence and houses out of anger. They were outraged and disgusted to watch them stay comfortably while the City destroys their shacks … We hear that the City gave permission to the families to stay here, why can’t it do the same to us?” asked Faku.

On Wednesday, the space where the families relocated by the City from Joostenbergvlakte had been staying was crowded with new shacks.

“We lost everything,” said Jenny Badernhost, one of the Joostenbergvlakte family members. “The NGO that assisted us gave us a bit of food, but we don’t want to stay at the NGO place.”

Badenhorst said she and her family now stay in an Opel Kadett in Kraaifontein.

“We are still shocked, but we will get through this,” she said.

Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements Councillor Xanthea Limberg said: “The City has conducted numerous anti-land invasion operations on this land parcel, given the repeated attempted land invasions over the past months … The City has also obtained an interdict protecting this land parcel from illegal occupation.”

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TOPICS:  Housing Land