Occupiers rebuild demolished homes, saying they have no money for rent

By Buziwe Nocuze

  • Mfuleni land occupiers rebuilt their homes after they were demolished on Sunday.
  • Three people were arrested during the demolitions and are due in court soon.
  • Many of the residents say they could no longer afford rent where they lived before occupying the land.
  • The City of Cape Town says there have been 130 land occupations across the metro since July.

“We don’t have money to pay rent and didn’t have any other choice but to build our homes here,” said 41-year-old Nkululeko Nkosana from Mfuleni in Cape Town. His shack was among a dozen homes demolished by the City of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit.

The shacks, situated on land near Nkqubelani Street, were demolished on Sunday. On Tuesday many people had already started rebuilding their homes.

Nkosana said that before erecting his shack on the land, he rented a room for R500 a month.

“When we built our shack three weeks ago, we never thought they would be demolished. I lost my job as soon as the lockdown started. I was cleaning canals in Fish Hoek but was told to stop,” he said.

Matsheliso Machael, a single mother who lives with five other relatives, said: “We cannot blame our landlords for chasing us away because they have bills to pay too.” So she too joined the occupation.

She said that on Sunday some residents came back from shopping to find their homes demolished.

Mayco Member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi said that there have been 130 land occupations across the metro since July.

“The City has empathy for those who have reduced or lost incomes, but it must be emphasised that landlords are not allowed to evict tenants during the lockdown.”

Booi said that illegal occupations hurt the City’s budget for planned projects, community facilities, basic services, beneficiaries of housing projects, and infrastructure expansion and maintenance.

“It also more often than not negatively impacts [occupiers] because of flooding, safety, health, and fire risks. We urge people not to occupy land,” he said.

SAPS provincial spokesman Captain FC Van Wyk said two men aged 25 and 29 were arrested during the demolitions and charged with public violence and resisting arrests at Mfuleni. He said a third man was arrested for malicious damage to property after throwing a brick at a vehicle.

The accused are due to appear in the Blue Downs Magistrate Court this week.

Published originally on GroundUp Banner image: A member of the City of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit removes materials from shacks in Mfuleni on Sunday. Photo: Masixole Feni   © 2020 GroundUp. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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