Land occupiers tear down ‘unoccupied’ shacks in overcrowded township

Community leader says the group will have to answer for their actions at an upcoming mass meeting

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Noma Sozwe and Nokuzola Ponase gathered what remained of the shacks demolished by other land occupiers in Gunguluza in Uitenhage at the weekend. The area has become overcrowded and the group accused the shack owners of no longer using the homes. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

  • At least 30 shacks were demolished by other shack dwellers in area 11, Gunguluza in Uitenhage on Saturday.
  • They claim that the shacks were not being used by the owners.
  • This is the biggest informal settlement in Uitenhage with over 3,000 shacks.

Noma Sozwe spent most of Sunday rebuilding her daughter’s two shacks that were demolished by a group of people who also wanted to occupy the space in area 11, Gunguluza in Uitenhage.

On Saturday, a group of people tore down more than 30 shacks they claimed were not being used by the owners. The group were upset because they apparently believe that if their shacks are not on the site, they will not benefit from the building of 846 toilets for phase two of a Human Settlements project in the area.

In July, the community protested, demanding that the 846 toilets be built as part of the municipality’s Covid-19 plan. The construction had been stopped. This is the biggest informal settlement in Uitenhage with over 3,000 shacks.

“This is devastating…I spent over R4,000 on building material for both my daughters’ shacks when I invaded the land in January 2019,” said Sozwe. She said she had built the shacks for her daughters because her RDP house was small and had become overcrowded.

She said her daughters had not been sleeping in the shacks because both had newborn babies, so they were staying with her. But the shacks “had furniture inside, including beds”, said Sozwe.

“This is an insult as most shacks that were broken down belonged to single women, some of whom have other reasons for not sleeping in their shacks,” she said.

Another resident, Noluvuyo Tsotsa, said she arrived in area 11 on Sunday afternoon to discover that her shack had been demolished. “We have all invaded this land and no one has a right to destroy another invader’s shack,” she said.

Area 11 development committee chairperson, Luyanda Manyamu, condemned the destruction of shacks. “Soon we will have a general meeting and discuss the matter which was initiated by a certain group of people from a certain corner. They will have to explain themselves.”

Ward 45 Councillor Siphiwo Plaatjies said: “We don’t get involved in the destruction of occupiers’ shacks and we don’t mediate. This [land] is still regarded as invaded land and we don’t interfere with who builds a shack. Our job is to see that residents are getting proper services and that’s all.”

TOPICS:  Housing

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