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Homes demolished as storm hits Cape Town

Homes demolished as storm hits Cape Town
Homes were demolished in Vrygrond on Thursday just as a large cold front and heavy rains hit Cape Town. (Photo: Lucas Nowicki)

Cape Town’s Anti-Land invasion Unit destroys shacks in the rain, leaving many people without shelter.

The City of Cape Town Anti-land Invasion Unit, accompanied by law enforcement, demolished five shacks at a site called Xakabantu in Vrygrond, in the rain on Thursday afternoon, 9 July 2020.

On Friday morning, most of the people whose shacks were demolished had left the area to find shelter.

We found a small group of people helping to rebuild Asavela Mqhokweni’s home. He had lived in the shack since April 2020. He is 29 and unemployed. He said he just stood and watched as his shack was demolished because he did not want to get arrested.

On Thursday night, he sheltered beneath what was left of his flattened shack as the storm hit.

“We are very angry because there is no one that should be out of their house in this rain,” said Nomapha Marcus, who runs the local soup kitchen in Xakabantu for Vrygrond United 4 Change.

She said that a large contingent of law enforcement and the Anti-Land invasion Unit arrived around midday and started to demolish the homes. She said the officers became aggressive when people started to film them.

Wayne Dyason, spokesperson for the City’s Law Enforcement said that “rounds were discharged to disperse the crowd who had started acting in a violent manner”.

Xakabantu is on the outskirts of Vrygrond, close to the Coastal Park Landfill Site. It has seen conflict between the city and local residents for many years, according to Nonkosi Fodo, secretary of the Vrygrond Development Forum.

Fodo said there are about 150 structures in Xakabantu, most of them built by people leaving cramped rooms in Vrygrond. She said that the city demolishes shacks on a regular basis in the area, but the last demolition was in April 2020.

“All we want from the city is for them to come to the table and engage with the community, and come to an agreement,” said Fodo.

Malusi Booi, Mayco Member for Human Settlements, said: “Xakabantu is on City of Cape Town-owned land and is not eligible for housing as it forms part of the False Bay Nature Reserve.”

He said that the city has “had ongoing consultations with the group about ongoing attempts to illegally invade this land” and the city had been granted a court order to prevent the occupation.

Booi said that the “city will continue to remove unoccupied and illegal structures to prevent the occupation of land”. DM

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