New round of demolitions in Cato Manor

Shack dwellers say their belongings were torched, leaving them destitute

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Photo of a woman next to a demolished shack
Batheni Mngadi stands next to her demolished home in the Azania Occupation, Cato Manor. Photo: Musa Binda

Over 75 shacks were demolished in Cato Manor by the eThekwini Municipality Land Invasion Unit on 1 August, following previous demolitions on 20 July.

Known as the Azania Occupation, shack dwellers have faced repeated demolitions and are disputing their legality.

During the latest round, most of the shack dwellers’ building materials were destroyed and their belongings were torched, leaving them destitute.

Nangomso Jona said he was home when the demolitions occurred. He was unable to save his belongings as law enforcement came in large numbers. “They use rubber bullets to force us out of our shacks. It’s impossible to save our belongings. Each time they arrive, we run and hide so we can save ourselves from rubber bullets, and we leave all our stuff behind,” said Jona.

A few shack dwellers have rebuilt, others have sought shelter at homes in nearby Cato Manor township.

“I was at work when the demolitions took place and my kids were at school. I only discovered what happened in the early evening when I got back from work,” said Batheni Mngadi. She works as a domestic worker in Pinetown, west Durban.

Her children were sheltered by another shack dweller who was home when the demolitions took place and rebuilt soon after the unit left.

Mngadi said she joined the occupation in February. She had been renting in Cato Manor but couldn’t afford it anymore. She and her children have now found shelter at the home of a friend.

Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the municipality will not tolerate the “invasion” of its land. He said law enforcement acted within the law and would not demolish shacks without proper documents from court.

He said he would investigate the allegations that shack dwellers’ belongings were torched. He didn’t believe the land invasion unit would have gone that far.

TOPICS:  Housing Land

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