Soshanguve land invaders removed

Karabo Ngoepe, News24

Pretoria - Hundreds of families in Soshanguve's ward 37 have been left homeless following the demolition of their shacks illegally built on both private and city land.

City of Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said they had occupied the land illegally and the municipal land had been earmarked for development.

However, when they arrived, an altercation between residents and police turned violent.

Residents told Media24 they were made to pay before land was allocated to them.

They claimed local ward committee members had given them permission to build on the land.

"They also gave us receipts to show we had paid. We were surprised today to see the red ants bulldozing our shacks. We don't understand why they did this," said one resident who asked not to be named.

Another said he was concerned about where he would sleep and that he had nowhere to go.

"I guess we are forced to sleep here in the open. Where do they expect all of us to go? Our belongings are scattered all over the place and they did not even give us an alternative place to stay," he said.

Tshwane Metro Police spokesperson Isaac Mahamba said the operation was implemented after the illegal occupants were issued with a notice to vacate the land. However they had not complied.

"On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, the [metro police] went to the area to enforce the notice and remove the illegal occupants, but they ... retaliated. Due to safety reasons for the officers, the operation was withdrawn. Today [Monday] there was more manpower to carry out the operation," he said.

Mahamba said residents threw petrol bombs and stones at police.

"About 2 500 shacks were removed and four people arrested. Two were arrested for public violence and the other two for possession of petrol bombs. The suspects are currently detained at the local police station and will appear in court soon for a bail application," he said.