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Gate 7 informal settlement residents demand service delivery and end to forced evictions

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By Ragheema Mclean

Dozens of residents of the Gate 7 informal settlement on Voortrekker Road, established more than 10 years ago in Kensington, have vowed to persist with their protest actions until their demands for basic services and an end to forced evictions are met.

On Wednesday morning, the protests resulted in the closure of Voortrekker Road between Jake’s Gerwel and 18th Avenue in both directions.

The residents are demanding essential services such as water, electricity, and sanitation, as guaranteed by the South African Constitution.

They are also calling for an end to harassment and threats of forced evictions by law enforcement agencies.

Speaking on VOC’s News Beat show, Kensington Community Policing Forum (CPF) Chairperson Jamiela Liedeman said a meeting was arranged with members of the Gate 7 committee, the ward councillor, the Kensington ratepayers association, the department of water and sanitation, metro police, traffic services, and the Kensington CPF.

“The meeting aimed to discuss a way forward and how to prevent future shutdowns,” said Liedeman. “Aside from their demands for services, there were also allegations against law enforcement officers who have allegedly been breaking down shacks, which is where the tensions began.”

She further explained that law enforcement officers claimed new shacks were being erected, but residents were only repairing their roofs after rainy weather.

“The residents are saying they were told by law enforcement that the ward councillor sent them to have the shacks taken down, but this is untrue.”

Ward councillor Cheslyn Steenberg condemned the protest that occurred on Wednesday.

Responding to allegations that he instructed law enforcement officers to dismantle structures, he stated, “I have explained to the residents that this is untrue because the land in question is private property and the COCT cannot act on this property.”

“The settlement further understands that they are unlawfully occupying private property and can be evicted by the owner of the land. The land owner once again failed to come and address the occupants of its land. I therefore requested for the City Legal Services to intervene and spur the land owner on to secure the land by any means necessary,” he added.

Steenberg said that residents have agreed to provide evidence of their claims, which will be investigated as these are serious allegations made against law enforcement officers.

Meanwhile, Ndabeni Trust Trustee Anda Njeza commented, “I am aware of the protest that occurred. As the trustee of the trust, I am working tirelessly to secure funding to launch an eviction application against the unlawful occupiers of the property belonging to the trust. We hope to file this application in the coming weeks.”

“It is important to note that the trust has never granted permission to anyone to reside on that land. The trust does not report to the unlawful occupiers, and for safety purposes, will only interact with them through court processes.”

Njeza noted that there is no obligation on the part of the trust to house the people there or to provide water and sanitary facilities.

Additionally, she said that the trust does not derive any profit from the land as it is not developed. The land is solely for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the trust.

VOC News

Photo: Screenshot

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