Police, squatters clash

IN THE latest confrontation over the chronic housing shortage, 2 000 backyard dwellers and police clashed when they occupied city-owned land in Kraaifontein yesterday.

Police repelled the bid and drove the homeless people off a piece of land along Old Paarl Road, arresting eight.

Police and members of the city’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit took down structures erected illegally on Saturday.

The backyarders, from Bloekombos and Wallacedene in Kraaifontein, also occupied two other pieces of land along Maroela Road. Plot markings and building materials were visible, but no structures had been put up.

It is the latest violent clash between the police and people occupying land illegally for housing. In May, Tafelsig backyaders clashed with police after they invaded land in Swartklip Road. Last September, three people lost their eyes during violent clashes with police in Hangberg when the city wanted to remove unoccupied dwellings erected illegally on a firebreak.

Yesterday, city officials and police moved in to demolish about seven of the fully built structures on an open field along Old Paarl Road and behind Bloekombos Secondary School, but the residents resisted and pelted police with rocks and sticks. Police retaliated by firing rubber bullets, stun grenades and spraying them with a water cannon.

The backyarders moved their protest to Old Paarl Road where they burnt tyres and again pelted police with rocks. The crowd toyi-toyied along the road where police again used rubber bullets and grenades to disperse them.

Cases of public violence and unlawful occupation of land were registered, and are being investigated, police spokesman Andre Traut said.

He said of the eight people arrested, seven were men and one a woman.

“SAPS will remain in the area in high numbers to maintain law and order. At this stage the situation is under control, but will be closely monitored,” Traut said.



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