Lwandle one year later: still no resolution

| Pharie Sefali
Occupiers from Lwandle protested on Tuesday a year after their eviction. Picture by Pharie Sefali.

On 2 and 3 June a year ago the residents of Lwandle Strand were evicted from the SANRAL-owned land that they were occupying. Besides losing their homes, many also lost their belongings. Yesterday, the evicted residents of Lwandle protested despite heavy rains, demanding to be listened to about their problems.

Yesterday afternoon, about 100 people were burning tyres, singing and dancing as they marched from Lwandle to the N2 highway.

At the time there was only two police vans behind the protesters. The leaders of the group began to panic when protesters burnt tyres on the N2, and they shouted, “This was not part of the plan. You going to get us in trouble.”

The protesters blocked the highway, causing cars to stop. One of the march leaders shouted at the protesters through a mega phone, telling them to move away from the highway. “We do not want to attract the police. We said this was going to be peaceful. Now the police are coming,” he shouted.

About four more police vans arrived at the scene. The police asked the protesters to leave, and informed them that the protest was unlawful and that they would be arrested if they continued. The protest cleared up within about 30 minutes.

Vuyiswa Siwethu was evicted last year. She said that she was protesting because a year later people are still staying at Nomzamo Hall, the place where people were temporarily put after their houses were destroyed. However, the City of Cape Town told GroundUp that only four people are staying at Nomzamo Hall, and they were not among those who were evicted. We have not yet been able to verify which claim is correct. When we visited the hall it was empty, but we were informed that was because people were participating in the protest.

Siwethu said, “Last year it was raining like this when they moved us, leaving us in the street. And today symbolizes exactly what happened then. After all the [saying] sorry and the promises made by the City of Cape Town and SANRAL, little has been done. And we do not know the way forward.”

Siwethu also says no one is talking to them about developments regarding the relocation promised to them by the City of Cape Town.

In the first phase in the area where the shacks were destroyed last year, SANRAL built 224 zinc shacks and installed water, taps and toilets. In the second phase, another 260 shacks were built but there is neither water, toilets nor taps.

People complain that there is no access to electricity and it is winter. Many are scared that uncontrolled fires might erupt from wood fires people use to keep warm. Buyiselwa Ndelwana, who recently moved to the second phase after staying in the hall, said that the conditions at the hall were not great.

“My sister and her nine-month-old baby stay inside this hall and it’s freezing. She doesn’t know when she will get a house. I got mine, my name was at the top of the list,” said Ndelwana. “Before people used to get food and clothing but now they do not get anything and they are suffering [at the hall].”

“I have children and they need clothing and food. I used to have things before the eviction. Now I have to think about compromising between food, clothing and bedding. After the eviction, the only thing I got from SANRAL was a cold empty shack. I still want my belongings. Some of us sleep only on a mattress and it is winter again,” said Ndelwana.

Pierrinne Leukes, spokesperson for Mayor Patricia de Lille said, “The hall has been badly vandalized and we experienced substantial theft which has been reported to SAPS. Cost for repairs at this point is close to R1 million.” She referred GroundUp to the Housing Development Agency (HDA) “who are acting as agents for the National Ministers of Human Settlements & Transport” to get responses to questions we asked on the status of the Lwandle development. It was too late to contact the HDA by the time of publication.

SANRAL did not respond to our request for comment.

Apology: When we first published this article, we used the wrong unedited version. The current version is correct.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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