Shack dwellers block Baden Powell Drive after demolitions

Protesters claim shacks were occupied

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Photo of protest
Sipho Gladile collects material to rebuild his cousin’s shack, while in the background police and protesters watch each other. Photo: Vincent Lali

Dozens of angry shack dwellers from Vosho informal settlement burned tyres and tree branches on Baden Powell Drive in Khayelitsha, Cape Town on Saturday.

They sang: “Voetsek! Leave Vosho alone,” while police watched them.

The protest tied up traffic for almost the whole morning as officials re-routed motorists.

The protest followed the destruction by Law Enforcement officials of one unoccupied and two occupied shacks on Friday morning in Vosho.

“We want the City of Cape Town to explain why it sent officials to destroy the shacks,” said protester Mzwakhe Matshoba.“We are not aware of any shacks that were causing problems here, so we don’t understand why they demolished them.”

Matshoba said Vosho community leaders had an agreement with the City that it would only destroy shacks after approaching the leaders.

When the officials demolished shacks in the presence of GroundUp previously, the leaders cooperated with them and showed them unoccupied shacks.

Alungile Ngwanya said she shouted at the demolishers and told them to leave the shacks alone, “but I kept quiet after they pointed guns at me”.

When GroundUp visited Vosho on Sunday, people had begun rebuilding their shacks.

“I’m rebuilding the shack because I have no other place to stay in,” said Vuyisa Simawo. He said he had not eaten because officials had damaged his groceries. “I’m hungry. I last ate yesterday.”

“The officials said they were carrying out their bosses’ orders and told me to leave my shack otherwise they would destroy it while I’m inside,” he said.

One of the protesters was arrested, which prompted other protesters to demand his release. “We won’t allow the traffic officials and the police to open the road for motorists until they release the arrested resident,” said community leader Sisa Mpiti. The road did however re-open during the day.

Western Cape police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said that about 60 people protested. The police are investigating a case of public violence, she said. She confirmed that a 37-year-old man had been arrested, and that he would be charged and appear in the Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court.

The City had not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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