“I will not fight with the people” says Gugs landowner following occupations

“Many times we have been told that land is identified for us, but then other people get put on the land” says occupier

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Photo of land
A group of backyarders have laid out plots to occupy open land in NY112, Gugulethu. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

Gugulethu backyarders have occupied three pieces of open land, saying they are tired of being overlooked by government when it comes to housing. The sites are in NY112, NY108 and NY6.

When GroundUp visited NY112, a number of people were busy establishing plots. Some were pushing trolleys and wheelie bins that had wooden poles and zinc sheeting.

Most residents were hesitant to speak to GroundUp and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A backyarder, who lives in NY112 near the occupied land, said, “This land has been standing empty for years and nothing is being done on it. So why should we suffer being backyarders when there is land that you can build your own home on?”

He said: “The police were here. And instead of chasing us away they were making sure that we are building correctly, one them even checking that each person has the same size plot. We spoke to the police, and they understand our situation.”

Gugulethu resident and spokesperson for the backyarders, Mirvin Tshabalala, said: “We are not doing this because we want to … Many times we have been told that land is identified for us, but then other people get put on the land. I must emphasise that this is not political, and we in no way plan to be violent. Should the police or law enforcement come to remove us, then they must have a plan to put us somewhere else. We are [hoping to] attract the [provincial] Minister of Human Settlements. We want his attention.”

The land in NY112 is owned by three private individuals. One of them, Peter Motale, told GroundUp that although a court interdict had been obtained to stop the erection of structures, “I will not fight with the people”. Motale also told GroundUp that a large part of the land belonged to the City of Cape Town.

At NY108 — where the Uluntu Centre was demolished — and NY6, the land had been marked out in plots with wooden poles and tape.

Tshabalala said, “We are all one unit and we are supporting each other.”

TOPICS:  Housing

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