Mfuleni land occupiers won’t give up

“Setting up again is a form of resistance” says woman whose shack has been demolished

By Masixole Feni

Photo of two women
Two women rebuild their shack on land occupied in Bardale. All photos: Masixole Feni

For the past month, backyard dwellers from Mfuleni have been trying to occupy land near Nqubelani Street, Bardale. They say they cannot afford to pay the owners of the formal houses whose yards they rent for R500 to R700 per month. Some have had their shacks demolished several times by law enforcement.

Nokuthula Nolali and Sinelizwi Melani sit on a bed in their shack in Mfuleni. Nokuthula Nolali arrived in Cape town in 2000 from Centane in the Amatole district of the Eastern Cape. She is a single mother with a nine-month-old baby. She has been living as a backyarder in Bardale. “We ask that the government give us a piece of land.”

Thembakazi Makhaya is 23 years old and unemployed. He came from Mthatha. He struggles to pay R500 backyard rent. “My family helps me with my rent money.”

Yandisa August came from Mount Fletcher to Cape Town. and now lives in Bardale. She is 30 and stays with her mother and four siblings. “I decided to set up my shack here because I’m old enough to be an independent woman. Now, I want a place of my own.”

Lungiswa Keketse at her front door finishes setting up her shack. She is originally from Struisbaai. She says this is not the first time she has had to rebuild. “Setting up again is a form of resistance.”

Anela Witington arrived in Cape Town in 2015 from Centane. She is 25 and has two children. She pays R650 rent and her mother, who lives in the Eastern Cape helps her. She said her mother is unemployed, but “she still manages to help me with my rent”.


Published originally on GroundUp .

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