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Fire victims rebuild shacks demolished by City

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Councillor says they built on private property but residents say there was nowhere else to build

Photo of demolished shacks
People who lost their shacks in October’s fire in Overcome Heights tried to rebuild their shacks on private land because their was no longer space to rebuild in their old locations. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare
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On Friday the City’s anti-land invasion unit demolished 21 shacks built along the boundary of Overcome Heights and Xakabantu open field. The shacks were built by people who lost their shacks in the fire in Overcome Heights on 25 October.

The fire destroyed over 300 shacks and displaced over 800 people.

Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements Xanthea Limberg said the structures were taken down because a group had rebuilt over the boundary line, encroaching on another property.

The City had previously instructed fire victims to rebuild on their original sites.

But Boniswa Mahlasela, whose rebuilt shack was destroyed, said that she got her rebuilding materials from the City on 29 October and by then there was no space to build her shack on its original site. “I was renting a small space at the back of the other big shack. I had no space for rebuilding at the back so I decided to move to the open space,” she said.

Mahlasela has been staying in Overcome Heights for five years. “I was surprised that the City demolished my shack and am not sure where to go now. My structure was up already. I had put some of my belongings in it. My belongings were left scattered all over the place.”

Andiswa Mubazha, whose home was also destroyed in the fire, built her shack on the boundary for the same reason. “I borrowed used building material and constructed my own shack here only to witness the City pulling it down,” said Mubazha, a mother of five.

She is unemployed and depends on her children’s grants to survive. Some of her children are staying with her friends.

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TOPICS:  Housing