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Land invaders refuse to budge


“The arrested persons will appear in the Galeshewe Magistrate’s Court soon. The investigation continues.”

BACK AT IT: Cornelius Coetzee and Kenny Maree start to rebuild the shanty which was torn down by municipal workers on Monday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

SHACK dwellers who invaded land in Nobengula Road in Galeshewe are adamant that they will not be leaving, despite a skirmish with the police where rubber bullets and tear gas were apparently fired into the crowd.

They stated that if Sol Plaatje Municipality failed to remove all the illegal shacks in the city within the next three days, they would start rebuilding their homes in the veld opposite the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature precinct.

“Why are illegal shacks allowed to flourish at the Lion’s Club (Rhythm City), the Kwanobantu soccer grounds and other vacant plots of municipal land, while we are shot at for no reason? We had to run for our lives from the police when they opened fire on Monday, while we were peacefully erecting our shacks,” they said yesterday.

Police spokesperson Captain Bashoabile Kale said that the Kagisho police arrested one suspect for contravening a court order on Monday.

“One shack was illegally erected on municipal land. The police assisted the municipality to effect the court order, relating to the invasion of municipal ground. Stun grenades were used to disperse the crowd and manage the riotous situation,” said Kale yesterday.

He stated that no one was injured.

“The arrested persons will appear in the Galeshewe Magistrate’s Court soon. The investigation continues.”

A community meeting was held yesterday afternoon on the site.

Residents living in the brick houses nearby said that they did not mind shanties being built in front of their homes. “There is a shortage of land and people need houses.”

About 100 plots have already been demarcated for occupation by people living in Soul City and Club 2000.

The land occupiers stated that they were tired of staying in overcrowded rooms under their parents’ roofs.

“We are fighting for land we will fight for water, lights and sanitation at a later stage. For now we will ask our neighbours in the houses to provide us with water. We don’t mind making use of candles and gas stoves in the meantime.”

One resident, Cornelius Coetzee, said that community members were shot at with rubber bullets and sprayed with tear gas on Monday.

“We do not acknowledge the interdicts that were handed over. It is not possible to process a court order in such a short space of time, when we only started building on Monday. We demand that the people who were arrested be released. What sort of crime is committed by building a shanty? ” Coetzee asked.

He pointed out that promises of shops, a school, crèche, clinic and road paving project in Soul City had never materialised.

Residents said that they felt insulted after the ward councillor apparently instructed them that the land was off bounds as it had been earmarked for houses for “high-class people”.

“That implies that we are low-class people who are not worthy of land, jobs or houses. High-class people do not belong in shacks – they can occupy the land on the other side of the legislature or they can live in fancy houses in Monument Heights instead. We are being robbed of our land and we are not going anywhere. ”

Kenny Lloyd Marais believed that crime would be reduced if an informal settlement was established.

“People are being robbed, raped and killed, where their bodies are hidden among the tall grass. We have cleared the area by means of spades,” Marais pointed out.

Spokesperson for Sol Plaatje Municipality Sello Matsie indicated yesterday that an interdict was obtained on June 28 to prevent people from building shacks on the land in Nobengula Road.

“No permission was granted. The land has been demarcated for middle-income people and belongs to the municipality,” said Matsie.

He stated that he had no information regarding the occupation of land belonging to the Kimberley Lion’s Club next to St Boniface High School.

The ward councillor could not be reached for comment.