Homes destroyed in Makhaza by law enforcement

The shacks were demolished and the building material taken away leaving the residents’ furniture standing in the open. All photos by Lilita Gcwabe

Backyarders from Makhaza who occupied land near Empolweni were evicted and their houses demolished by law enforcement.

Law enforcement officers on Wednesday morning demolished shacks that had been erected by backyarders from Makhaza on land alongside Baden Powell Drive in Khayelitsha, near Empolweni informal settlement. The ‘land invasion’ followed a court order compelling the City of Cape Town to return building materials that had been confiscated on Easter weekend, when, on Good Friday, the City demolished about 170 structures and evicted the residents.

With the help of the Legal Resources Centre, Social Justice Coalition and Ndifuna Ukwazi, the residents took the City of Cape Town to court and the judge ruled in favour of the residents and ordered that the material of 49 families be returned to them. “Because we were under pressure to take the matter to court, we could only get 49 names at the time even though we know that there are about 170 houses that were demolished. But we are working on something for the remaining people,” said Nkosikhona Swartbooi from housing activist group, Ndifuna Ukwazi. He was speaking at a community meeting on Friday last week before handing over to the Minister of Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu. Sisulu promised the community that she would return on Sunday to deliver water tanks. She also promised that she was going to replace the material that was destroyed during the demolition.

Then on Sunday, Sisulu said that the government had gazetted that no evictions may take place during the lockdown but she also warned against invasion of land and urged the police to deal with opportunists. Sisulu was saying all of this while residents were already clearing land to build their homes.

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Sisanda Ngxanga says that her cousin bought the building material for her and since the demolition of her home, she does not have a place to sleep.

36-year-old Sisanda Ngxanga is one of the occupants whose house was demolished. She is unemployed and was given the material by her cousin who is also not working due to the lockdown.

“I was staying with my cousin and her husband in Zwezwe. My cousin sells amagwinya and tea at the Kuyasa taxi rank but because of the lockdown she has not been working. But, she and her husband managed to get me the material to put up a shack. I have nowhere to go now; I can’t go back and stay with them after all they have done for me,” said Ngxanga. When the law enforcement came to demolish her shack she wailed.

Yamkela Sithole said that she also does not have a place to go where she will sleep tonight. “I’m unemployed and my only source of income is the child grant. I don’t even know where I’m going to sleep tonight,” she said.

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