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Shack dwellers rebuild a third time after demolitions in Mfuleni

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Residents are not building to cause trouble, but because they have no place to stay, says community leader

Photo of shack frames and a man
Residents rebuild their shacks on Sunday in Mfuleni after demolitions were carried out. Photo: Vincent Lali
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On Friday law enforcement demolished over a hundred shacks in Sondela informal settlement, Bardale, and on an open field near Nqubelani Street in Extension Six, Mfuleni.

Community leader Gcobani Ntilashe said, “Residents are not building shacks to cause trouble, but because they have no place to stay.”

“We want the lawyers to see if they can convince the City to give us papers saying we can stay here on a temporary basis,” said Ntilashe.

Community leader Ntombizandile Delihlazo said, “I noted down names of 90 residents before law enforcement arrived … The whole field was filled with shacks.”

“Some residents can’t afford to pay rent. Other residents had to leave their backyard shacks because the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements is building houses for their landlords and now there is no space in their yards,” said Delihlazo.

She said her shack has been demolished twice. On the second occasion officials took her housing materials away. A loudhailer also disappeared during the demolitions and community members were busy collecting R1,500 to compensate the owner.

Some homeless residents rebuilt their shacks on Sunday.

Bongani Sovitha, who stays with his three children in a small shack in Bardale, says he gets occasional work in construction. He had collected materials for his shack over the course of several weeks. He said his shack materials had been confiscated three times.

“I took discarded wooden planks and ply boards from work. Ticket officials refused me permission to carry them on the train and forced me to throw them away, but I managed to ride the train along with the discarded materials when the officials were not around,” said Sovitha.

Zanele Nqophiso was among those rebuilding their shacks on Sunday. Wearing safety boots, she told GroundUp, “I don’t have money to hire a man to build my shack, so I build it myself.”

She said she could no longer afford to pay her landlord R500 for rent and electricity. “I have realized that I could buy food with the money I used to pay for rent if I had my own place,” she said.

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TOPICS:  Housing Land