Zero tolerance for land invaders

Some of the shacks builders near Dunoon vowed to rebuild until the City of Cape Town gave them land.

The City has torn down dozens of shacks being built on private land near Dunoon, saying it has zero tolerance for land invasions.

Mayco member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, said land invasions were illegal and stalled service delivery.

The shacks were being built in the Zwezwe informal settlement.

Mr Booi said the City’s anti-land invasion unit had received many complaints about illegal structures going up in the area. The structures torn down by the unit at the weekend were incomplete and unoccupied, he said.

“Every time that we see an illegal occupation we deny fair and systematic processes amid very high demand for accommodation brought on by continued rapid urbanisation,” he said.

But those who had been building the shacks said they had nowhere else to go.

Phiwokuhle Mzimela, 28, said she had been squatting with friends after moving out of her parents’ home in Dunoon.

She had spent R3 000 on building materials and had been busy putting her shack up on Sunday June 23 when the anti-land invasion unit had arrived.

“It came as a shock to me because one minute we were building and next thing, we see City officials with guns demolishing our property. The City knows that there’s a need for land, but, yet, we are still having to go through this issue over and over. We pay our taxes just like everyone else, but why are we treated any different?”

Samson Vanda, who has lived in Dunoon for 10 years, said he had been forced to build his own shack after his landlord had sold her house and told him to move out.

“Different circumstances brought us here, and that is what I would like people to understand. I have seen on social media, people saying that all we want is a handout. I work and provide for my immediate family and the rest of my family back in the Eastern Cape. Yet, I am still in this position where I have to deal with not having a stable plot of land to build my home.”

Mr Booi didn’t say exactly how many shacks there were only that there had been “a large number”.

An interdict had been sought by the private land owner blocking the occupation of the land, said Mr Booi.

He added that the City realised there was a dire need for housing across the metro.

“We are making every effort to address this matter and to provide services within a planned and fair manner, wherever possible within the constraints such as available budget, suitable land and community dynamics that are being experienced,” he said.