Squatters see red over removal

More than 1000 people were left homeless on Sunday after they were forcefully moved from a piece of land they had invaded in Brakpan, east of Johannesburg.

The land was a private airplane landing strip. The squatters had been there for a week.

However, their homes came crashing down on Sunday when the Red Ants, a private security company, descended on the area and started tearing down the shacks.

The Red Ants arrived in a strong force with four trucks which at the end of their mission left with loads of furniture belonging to the squatters.

A contingent of riot police also had to be brought in to guard the squatters, who were protesting against their removal from the area.

The angry people blockaded the roads leading to the strip and most of the roads in the nearby Wattville township leading to the squatter camp were sealed off with burning tyres and rubble.

Most of the people insisted they would return to the place which they said they only intended to use as a temporary base while waiting for government low-cost housing.

“This land has been vacant for years. We are sick and tired of empty promises by the government.

We see no reason why we cannot occupy this land,” said Laurence Mabaso, a community leader.

The Ekurhuleni municipality authorised the removal of the squatters. Municipal spokesperson Zweli Dlamini said the council would not tolerate any similar invasion of land.

Most of the squatters claimed they were unable to get government houses, with some claiming they had been on the waiting list for at least 15 years.

Others claimed they had to pay bribes of up to R500 to council officials to be considered for a house.

A resident, Molly Seage, 52, said politicians were playing around with the homeless residents of Lindelani.

“We voted for the ANC during the elections. The DA won our ward so no one wants to touch us,” she said.

Police were watching the situation and according to Col Louise Maluleke no one had been arrested on Sunday afternoon.

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