City removes people occupying Gugulethu land

Eviction takes place despite upcoming meeting between mayor and occupiers

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Photo of police van in foreground and protesters in distance
Police clashed with people occupying land in Gugulethu. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

The City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU) demolished shacks and confiscated material from people occupying private land in Gugulethu on Tuesday morning. Some of the backyarders who were evicted have vowed to barricade roads in response.

The eviction comes despite Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille intending to meet with the occupiers later this week amid her ongoing discussions with both the occupiers and the landowners. De Lille’s spokesperson, Xolani Koyana, told GroundUp that the mayor had not given any assurance that the occupiers would not be removed. De Lille made it clear that she could not give the occupiers permission to settle on privately owned land, Koyana said.

When GroundUp arrived at the scene of the eviction in NY112 on Tuesday morning, the ALIU was loading sheets of wood and zinc, while residents stood on the sidelines watching. There was a large police presence. A group of residents then started shouting, burning tyres, and throwing rocks at the police, who had formed a line with protective shields. Rubber bullets were fired which caused the group to disperse, forcing some of the police to chase after them.

One woman, who had a baby on her back, angrily shouted that she had just bought the material and now it was being taken from her. “I don’t know what these people want us to do. What do they want us to do?”

The residents have attempted to occupy three privately owned pieces of land in Gugulethu’s NY112, NY108 (where the Uluntu Centre used to be) and NY6 next to the Gugulethu Square Mall.

Most of the occupiers are backyarders, people who pay rent to live in shacks on the properties of formal households. Gugulethu resident and spokesperson for the backyarders Mirvin Tshabalala confirmed that they would protest later today. “They took everything. Some of us were already living here and they took people’s belongings as well.” Tshabalala, supported by backyarders standing with him, said they are tired of being shunned by the City. They accuse the City of giving priority to people who live in informal settlements.

In NY108, police had blockaded the road, while tyres put on the road by protesters burned and the ALIU collected material on the occupied land. In NY6, the situation was quiet, and it appears no evictions had yet taken place. A group of backyarders could be seen meeting on the occupied land.

TOPICS:  Housing

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