Stand off between Old Mutual and Khayelitsha occupiers

1 day 5 hours ago
Residents were removed but returned almost immediately

By Vincent Lali

Photo of Old Mutual property in Khayelitsha
Evicted residents from a block of flats and bungalows in Khayelitsha owned by Old Mutual reoccupy the building. Photo: Vincent Lali

Twenty-five people who occupied an Old Mutual property, and were then evicted, have got most of their possessions back. But they claim that some of their goods are damaged or missing. They have reoccupied the building.

A leader of the group in Thembokhwezi, Khayelitsha, said they got their seized possessions back from a depot in Blackheath on Friday.

They illegally occupied the property on 16 June and were evicted on 30 July by Red Ants and police. Most of the occupants were backyard dwellers in the area. The property has been vacant since Equal Education moved its offices from there in 2016. Old Mutual intends to build “289 units and amenities such as a crèche or church, a school and a public open space” on the property, according to its spokesperson Jenna Wilson.

Neli Bomvana, a leader of the occupiers, said a fridge belonging to one occupier is broken. Another occupier could not find a digital camera that was confiscated, and another could not get their shoes back.

“We discovered that Old Mutual didn’t have a list of the things it seized. Our advocate has asked us to draw up a list of the things we could not get back and he would approach Old Mutual,” said Bomvana.

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Woody plants on the march: trees and shrubs are encroaching across Africa

1 day 7 hours ago
An example of woody plant encroachment over Eagle-Siding in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. D Edwards (1954) and James Puttick (2010). Images courtesy of rePhotoSA.

Forests are being cleared by humans at an alarming rate. Since 2000, roughly 20% of Africa’s forests have been wiped out. This deforestation has serious consequences, among them a loss of biodiversity and the potential to remove carbon dioxide (CO₂), a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere.

But trees and shrubs, collectively known as woody plants, appear to be fighting back on another front. Many of these species are gradually encroaching into grasslands and savannas across Africa, particularly in places like Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

Taken at face value, this may seem to be good news. Woody plants mean more fuel wood for rural communities and increased food for browsing livestock like goats. It may offset the loss in carbon sequestration caused by deforestation.

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17 hours 27 minutes ago
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