New settlement to be named after Gugulethu Seven

Backyarders make yet another attempt to occupy empty land in Gugs

Backyarders who have occupied land in Gugulethu intend to name their new settlement after the Gugulethu Seven. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

By Mary-Anne Gontsana

8 May 2018

Gugulethu backyarders started occupying the piece of land behind the post office in NY112 again on Tuesday. People were moved off this land in March. But Tuesday’s occupiers said they were moving onto the land because there are still no government plans for them to get decent housing.

GroundUp reported in February that backyarders — people who live in shacks in the backyards of formal home owners — split themselves into three groups, and occupied open land in NY112, NY108 and NY6. They did so because, they said, people living in informal settlements are favoured by the City of Cape Town when it comes to getting houses.

Since February there have been clashes between the backyarders and law enforcement after the occupiers’ shacks were demolished.

It was windy and drizzling in NY112 on Tuesday, but backyarders helped each other erect a shack. One said that by nightfall, one of them would be able to sleep in it.

A backyarder told GroundUp “we don’t want our names all over the newspapers”, so none gave their names. But they said that they did not care who the land belongs to; they would erect their shacks on it.

So far about ten structures have been erected. Four were already occupied by Tuesday afternoon, and the occupiers said more would be put up. The land in NY108 and NY6 was still vacant.

A woman said, “Enough is enough! We’ve been crying for attention but no one is giving us any. We’ve also been to court over this matter after we were given a [notice for an eviction]. On 20 March, we were at the High Court where the case was postponed till further notice. No date was given, because the complainant was not present in court.”

Asked if they were not afraid that their shacks would be demolished again, one of the men said, “Law enforcement and the police come here and do patrols.” He said they sometimes even have a “civil conversation” with them.

One of the backyarders, who was on a ladder removing nails, said there was currently no new date for the hearing on their eviction. “We are waiting for the sheriff of the court to come give us a date.”

The occupiers intend to name the informal settlement Gugulethu Seven, after the seven men who were shot dead by the apartheid Vlakplaas unit on the corner of NY1 (Steve Biko Drive) and NY111.