Sanco and ANC members clash following house demolitions

Shops closed in protest and ward councillor’s house set alight

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Photo of woman with her bed and other belongings outside.
People's belongings were left out in the rain after their houses were demolished on Thursday. Photo: Manqulo Nyakombi

Police have confirmed that nine people were arrested in  Cofimvaba on Friday on charges of public violence following a clash between ANC members and Nyanisweni residents led by the South African National Civics Organisation (Sanco), which is an ANC alliance partner. The latter were protesting outside Intsika Yethu Municipality.

This comes after Intsika Yethu Municipality demolished houses at Nyanisweni, Nkanini location, leaving about 15 families homeless. The incident happened on Thursday. Since then residents have protested by closing shops in town and demanding that the municipality find them accommodation.

Cofimvaba is about 170km north-west of East London on the R61.

Residents also prevented people who work in town from going to work until the municipality agrees to have a meeting with them. They also set alight a ward councillor’s house on Thursday.

According to residents at about 10am on Thursday, a group of police together with the anti-land invasion unit came to the area and began demolishing mud-brick houses.

Some residents said they begged the police to give them a chance to remove their belongings but their requests were ignored.

When GroundUp arrived at the area on Friday a six-year-old child, Awonke Matoti, was sitting under the fallen roof of his demolished house, while his mother Lizeka (33) was trying to salvage what she could from her home.

Residents claimed that they were not given notice and they were shocked when their houses were destroyed.

Lizeka said she was the first person to build a house in Nkanini. She said she first built a shack, then she built a mud-brick house.

“I came here in 2012. After three years the municipality told us to move because they wanted to install a pipe to move water. But we told them that we do not have other places to stay,” said Lizeka.

The mother of three said she built her two-room house using a child support grant.

“I’m unemployed. I only sell apples and business is not always good. My husband is a construction worker. He only works during summer. We survive with the child support grant and the municipality knows that most of the people living here are poor. The reason we moved here is because we could not afford paying R500 rent every month for one room,” she said.

Another resident Khuzekazi Mdlalo said that she lost everything in her house. She said her house was the first house to be demolished.

“I begged them to give me at least ten minutes to move my things, but the police told me that if I go inside the house they will destroy it while I’m inside. They just destroyed it. I could not save a thing. Now I’m trying to pick up what I can find,” she said.

Ward 14 councillor Malibongwe Gulubele also said he lost everything. He told GroundUp his house was burned by Sanco members.

“I’m at the police station, to open a case against them,” he said.

Sanco member Nombeko Nangu confirmed that four Sanco leaders and five residents were arrested.

She said they are waiting for them to appear in court.

Intsika Yethu Municipal Manager Zamuxolo Shasha said that the houses were removed because the area has falling rocks and the municipality also wants to construct a pipe where the houses are located. The pipe will transport water to town.

“This matter has been in court. We won the case and the magistrate issued a court order,” said Shasha.

He said after winning the court order, a public meeting was called to inform residents. He said they told residents that they would be given an alternative place to stay but it would not be free.

Shasha accused owners of the shops that closed of being members of opposition parties.

TOPICS:  ANC Housing

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

This issue proves that the ANC has denied people a right to housing, in a ruthless way.

How do you think people can trust the ANC after this? The very government that fought for these rights is the one taking them away.

This is being ruthless and cruel. Just because someone doesn't go with your political party doesn't make them less human.

The ANC will wake up very late. You're losing our votes.

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