The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) have been coaxed into an arrangement by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to allow recently evicted residents of Lwandle in Strand’s Nomzamo informal settlement to continue staying there for a short period of time while alternative arrangements are made.
But until then, the more than 800 residents evicted in, what was seen as, a violent manner are now forced to bide their time until they are allowed to return to the SANRAL owned land. The City of Cape Town has made Nomzamo Community Centre available to them to use to recuperate for the next week.
Ayanda, one of the residents now forced to live for the next few days in a cold community centre while a massive cold front hits the Cape Peninsula, says residents were not even aware of the intention to evict them. This sentiment has been disputed by SANRAL. The agency claims residents were informed timeously, but Ayanda says residents had to find out from others in Lwandle that police were on their way. She says police used force to remove them from the property.
“We were told by other people ‘the police are at the garage, they’re going to come here’. At that point some of us were looking for food because they’d destroyed our houses the day before. So it was cold and we were hungry…but they never told us that we would get shot at.”
Ayanda says they were told on Tuesday that they would be provided with building materials to rebuild homes on the same plot of land that they were evicted from. She could not recall the name of the woman who explained this to residents but given the fact that deputy minister for Human Settlements Zou Kota on Tuesday visited the community centre, Councillor Mbuyiselo Matha confirmed this claim.
Councillor Matha says initially the City refused to allow residents to use the centre as an interim home, but the City relented and now residents will be able to deal with the events that took place this week and make arrangements for the future. Had it not been for the intervention of the national ministries of transport and human settlements, evicted residents and their children may have completely been bereft of a permanent place to stay.
“Deputy Minister Kota and Minister Peters came through here, and apologised to the residents for how they had been treated. But they told everyone that they would be able to go back to that land and rebuild some of their homes,” he said.
Although it is unconfirmed by authorities, Mata says an eighteen month old baby girl was injured by rubber bullets fired by police officers on Tuesday. The whereabouts of the mother are unknown since she made a call to a community leader confirming the death of her daughter from a nearby hospital. VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)