Community leaders’ homes destroyed in Khayelitsha by angry residents


They asked why I live in a shack while other residents’ shacks are being destroyed

Photo of an empty plot with shacks behind
When GroundUp visited Siyahlala on Saturday some residents were putting up a shack where the local office of the community leaders was destroyed. Photo: Vincent Lali

Angry residents destroyed shacks belonging to community leaders and robbed them of their belongings on Wednesday and Friday in Siyahlala informal settlement, Khayelitsha.

Bongiwe Kethabahle told GroundUp that an angry crowd came to her shack on Wednesday demanding to see the books where she and other leaders record contributions to a community fund.

“The residents asked me to show them financial records and explain how we as leaders use the money residents pay to us,” she said.

While she was talking to the group an angry resident said law enforcement was busy destroying shacks. “They asked me why the officials were destroying shacks, and accused me of asking them [law enforcement] to come and destroy shacks,” she said.

“One resident said I stay in a shack while other residents’ shacks were being destroyed and hit me with a stone,” she said.

Kethabahle said the group stole money and the financial records belonging to the community. They also destroyed her crèche and took her building materials.

“I have no clothes to wear. I don’t even have a panty,” said Kethabahle. “The thugs have stolen my share of food which I got from my stokvel. Now I have nothing to eat.”

“When I saw a woman wearing my winter jacket on Friday night, I forced her to take it off and hand it to me,” said Kethabahle.

She said her sister has left Siyahlala after residents robbed her of her bed, cupboard, wardrobe and clothes. “I asked her to run away and stay elsewhere because her life is in danger,” said Kethabahle.

Kethabahle now stays at her brother’s place in Enkanini informal settlement, Khayelitsha.

Another community leader Buyiswa Konani said a mob of residents tore her shack down and stole the bed, fridge, cupboard, washing basket, blankets, TV stand and a heater.

She now sleeps at her sister’s RDP house in Green Point, Khayelitsha.

“I have no money to buy building material. I don’t even have a spoon,” she said.

Fezeka Mavela, who recently stepped down as a community leader, also had her shack destroyed around 6pm on Friday. “I came back from work only to find the space where my shack stood empty. There was nothing I could call my own,” she said.

She said her security guard certificate and licensed gun were taken as well as her building materials, clothes, laptop and furniture. “I don’t even have a face cloth or tooth paste,” she said. “I hear that the thugs want to kill us. Friends console us and say we must be grateful that they have not killed us.”

On Saturday Mavela, Konani and Kethabahle went to the Khayelitsha police station to ask the police to help them recover their belongings.

“The police say vans are available, but there are no police to take us to Siyahlala and help us track down our belongings,” said Kethabahle. “I waited for the police to take me to Siyahlala and help me recover my stolen belongings for the whole day on Friday. I’m frustrated.”

When GroundUp visited Siyahlala on Saturday, some residents were putting up a shack where the destroyed local office of the community leaders stood.

Police comment will be added as son as it is received.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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