Four new state-subsidised houses in a Khayelitsha housing project were attacked by local backyarders on Tuesday night (17/11/2009), a week after they were handed over to beneficiaries from Gugulethu.
The attacks, in which windows were broken with stones and brick, came on the heels of a petrol bomb attack on one of the houses on Wednesday the previous week – the same night 49 houses in the Mandela Park Housing Project 823 were handed over.
The attacks are believed to be the work of Mandela Park backyarders who have held a number of protests over the fact that the beneficiaries are from a different township. The protesters have said a portion of the houses should be set aside for backyarders living in the area in which the houses were built.
New home owner Ntombikayise Ndabazandile had a petrol bomb thrown through her window the night she moved into her house, and on Tuesday again came under attack.
“First it was a petrol bomb now its bricks,” said Ndabazandile while picking up broken glass.
But she says she will not return to the backyard shack that was her former home in Gugulethu.
“I’m not scared anymore. I won’t leave this house. It’s mine. They can do whatever they want, I’m not going anywhere.”
Another beneficiary from Gugulethu who had her windows broken on Tuesday night, Ethel Mangalaza, said she had nowhere else to go.
“Where I was a backyarder they demolished my shack. And I have been waiting for this house for a long time so I would rather die here,” said Mangalaza.
Harare police station communication officer Constable Nosiphiwo Mntengwana said police vans were patrolling the area everyday because they were aware of the opposition from Mandela Park backyarders.
Mntengwana said the beneficiaries who had their houses attacked on Tuesday night had not opened up a case and therefore he could not “really comment on the issue”.
The trouble surrounding the housing project started in August following a meeting between the Mandela Park backyarders and Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, in which the backyarders believed Madikizela promised them an allocation of 23 of the 57 houses which comprised the last phase of the project, as the beneficiaries for those houses could not be located.
As the beneficiaries were tracked down and the possible number of houses which local backyarders could occupy dwindled, the backyarders went on a rampage.
On September 19 a group of about 200 backyarders looted and vandalised the then empty houses and set one of them alight.
Ward councillor Mthwalo Mkhutswana said it was not know exactly which individuals were behind the attacks on the new beneficiaries, but if they were caught, “they will pay”.
Madikizela’s spokesperson Zalisile Mbali said the MEC had not been informed about Tuesday night’s attacks.