Hall torched in housing protest

A land invasion protest turned violent after a community hall was burnt in Makhaza in Khayelitsha on Wednesday night.

The incident occurred shortly after the land invasion unit and the police destroyed seven shacks erected at a nearby piece of land.

On Monday afternoon a group backyard dwellers who are mostly young people from the nearby homes, erected shacks in an open land between Ncedo and Galela Street.

They demanded that the authorities allow them to build their homes to ease overcrowding in their extended family homes.

Zusakhe Rhoji, 28, said they decided to build homes in the vacant area as there were risks to them because of muggings and rapes. The demolishing of shacks sparked an angry protest. A furniture company vehicle, dropping off staff, was also looted.

Another private company vehicle was also torched on the same day.

On Tuesday angry land invaders also erected other shack structures, but the unit and the cops also destroyed these.

On Wednesday morning the group barricaded Ncedo Street, Dibana and Walter Sisulu Road with burning tyres and shipping containers.

They later erected other new shacks but these were also destroyed by the authorities.

One of the seven shacks was completed with a bed inside when the police and the unit arrived and got busy.

Confrontation broke out between the police and the group of more than 40 protesters who attempted to prevent the demolition of the structures.

The unit’s demolition personnel dodged stones that were hurled at them from the back of the nearby private homes.

“Please destroy it or you better kill me,” shouted a man in his late 20s as he surged forward pleading with the police.

“No, I am not trying to fight, I’m just defending my building material from being destroyed,”
he shouted with stretched arms and open hands while watching his newly built one-roomed shack being dismantled.

“Come on shoot and kill us all because we are not committing crime here, we are just trying to settle because we do not have shelter. These are our rights and we will continue to fight for them,” screamed one woman.

Just before 8pm protesting youngsters torched the Desmond Tutu Community Hall after they threw missiles and burning tyres at the facility.

They also broke the front windows with stones.

The attack also damaged some businesses accommodated in the hall such as the Ikamva Youth Development Centre which offers after school computer training in Maths and Science.

It also damaged the Zimele Pre-School, the offices of the DA, City of Cape Town and SASSA Pension Pay Out office based in the hall.

Const Nosiphiwo Mtengwane, a spokesperson for the Harare police station said no arrests had been made.

Mtengwane appealed to residents to control their emotions and also use the proper procedure in order to get their problems attended to by the authorities.

“People must stop damaging private property,” she said.

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