Siyahlala community leader’s shack demolished

Siyahlala community members holding a meeting outside court. Photo by Mfundo Mhlanganiso

Four accused of destroying shack belonging to a community leader of the Siyahlala land occupation in Khayelitsha appear in court,

Four community members of Siyahlala, a recently occupied piece of land near Spine Road in Green Point, appeared in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on charges of malicious damage to property. Bongiwe Mpande-Khethabahle laid charges after her shack was demolished by an angry crowd demanding to see the books where she and other leaders record contributions to a communal fund.  The records linked to the fund have since the destruction disappeared. According to a report by GroundUp, people were provoked to action by recent demolition of shacks by the Law Enforcement Unit of the City of Cape Town Metro Police.

Mpande-Khethabahle, the Siyahlala committee chairperson and a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) branch laid charges against three fellow party members and another community member whom she accuses of destroying her shack and stealing her belongings.

Speaking to Elitsha outside court, Mbambeleli Cetywayo denied that he and the other EFF members were involved. “I went to the settlement after I saw a group of community members gathered outside her house. A woman who was Mpande threw a stone and shouted to the community members to go away and that is when the community members retaliated and start to destroy her shack,” said Cetywayo who lives in K-Section in Site B.

“She accused me of stealing her blanket,” said fellow accused EFF member Busisiwe Ngcango.

“Earlier EFF members called me and wanted to find out why I was making people pay for the land. I explained to them but they singled me out as if it was my decision to make people pay. It was the decision of the community,” said Mpande-Khethabahle who has fled the area.

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“They came to my house and used the megaphone to mobilise the community to come because they have caught ‘the corrupt thief’. It was after that my house, crèche and the shop in my yard were destroyed,” she said.

“Some residents took me away for safety and I went to the police station to lay a charge. I came back to an open space as if there was no house,” said Mpande-Khethabahle who recently buried her husband.

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