In April their homes were destroyed by a flood. Now their new homes are being demolished

Dozens of Enkanini residents continue to rebuild their homes in defiance of the eThekwini municipality

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Photo of woman next to shack
Angel Chiliza stands next to the remains of her shack that was demolished by eThekwini Municipality’s anti-land invasion unit. Photo: Musa Binda

Over 30 shacks were demolished by the eThekwini Municipality’s anti-land Invasion unit on Thursday at Enkanini informal settlement in Durban. Shack dwellers accused the unit of damaging their belongings.

When GroundUp visited the informal settlement on Thursday afternoon, some people were already rebuilding their shacks. Siyabonga Xulu was halfway done. He said he was sleeping with his girlfriend when the unit arrived at about 6:30am. Normally, the couple would have been at work at that time, but they both had the day off. Xulu is a construction worker and his girlfriend is a hospital chef.

“They told us once that we needed to get out of our shacks because they had come to demolish them. My girlfriend was still trying to pack a few things, like our wallets, identity documents and bank cards, when they beat her. She was forced to leave everything and ran to save herself from extreme harm,” he said.

Xulu said that when they returned, their television and wardrobe were broken.

They have been living in the informal settlement for about four years. They previously lived in backyard rooms in Chesterville, a nearby township, but this was too expensive for them.

Angel Chiliza lives with her two young children. She was also sleeping when the demolition team arrived. Her shack was demolished. “Right now I am sleeping at my friend’s house in Benela – which is across the road. I’m left with no option because I’m a woman. I can’t rebuild the shack on my own and I don’t have spare money to hire a man who can rebuild it for me,” she said. She described the demolition as cruel.

Some residents we spoke to were perplexed by why their shacks were chosen for demolition. They had red numbers painted on them which meant they were known to the municipality. They built their shacks on the edge of the informal settlement after floods in April damaged their previous shacks. They decided it was too risky to stay where they were.

The residents claimed that before moving to the new land they had asked the ward councillor, Warren de Marigny Burne (DA), to meet to discuss the matter with them, but he didn’t come. So they decided to move onto the unoccupied land.

The councillor’s response to GroundUp indicated that he was not aware of having been contacted by the land occupiers.

This was the second demolition in a month.

EThekwini Municipality spokesman Msawakhe Mayisela said the municipality is worried about land occupations. He said that the anti-land invasion unit has the right to use demolitions, and that it only does so with a court order. He called on people to stop occupying land illegally.

UPDATE: The councillor’s response was added after publication.

TOPICS:  Housing

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