News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday February 17th 2019

Eviction order threats follow Hout Bay clashes

Hangberg residents examine prefabricated walls taken down by city law enforcement on the slopes of Sentinal Hill this week, action that resulted in violent clashes between residents and police. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

Following violent protests, the City of Cape Town and SA National Parks are to apply for a court order by Tuesday this week to evict people living in 54 shacks erected on the slopes of Hout Bay’s Sentinel Hill.The shacks, erected above the building line in a firebreak on SA National Parks land, spillover from Hangberg, a formerly coloured area developed by the apartheid government to house fishermen and their families.

Violent clashes between over 100 police officers and residents erupted on Tuesday when the city moved in to demolish 29 unoccupied structures illegally erected on the SAN Parks land.

City law enforcement officers had to negotiate a barricade at the entrance to Hangberg on Tuesday and encountered furious residents who lobbed petrol bombs, flares and rocks at them.

Police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd and 58 protestors were arrested for public violence.

Although all 29 unoccupied structures were demolished, two more were built overnight on Tuesday, resulting in a repetition of Tuesday’s violent clashes when law enforcement officers returned on Wednesday to tear them down.

The demolitions and accompanying violence followed threats to Premier Helen Zille and Mayor Dan Plato made by community members when she was shouted down during a meeting with residents on Friday 17 where she attempted to get them to voluntarily dismantle the illegal shacks.

The SA Human Rights Commission this week condemned the violence in Hangberg.

SAHRC spokesperson Vincent Moaga said they were concerned whether the City of Cape Town provided “adequate access to information to facilitate necessary public engagement processes”.

Moaga said based on preliminary monitoring, the SAHRC was of the view “that had effective communication and consultation taken place, Tuesday’s violent confrontation could have been avoided”.

But City media manager Kylie Hatton said only unoccupied illegal structures were torn down this week and an eviction order would have to be granted by the Western Cape High court before they could remove the remaining 54 occupied dwellings.

She said the application for an eviction order was being done jointly with SANParks because although they owned the land, a part of the Hangberg area spilled onto a portion of it, and the city was responsible for managing this section.

Hatton said the city would also be applying for an eviction order so they could remove 103 structures situated on land above a water pipe in the Dontse Yakhe settlement in Hout Bay’s Imizamo Yethu township across the bay from Hangberg.

Like the illegal Hangberg dwellings, those built in Dontse Yakhe were also on land owned by SANParks.

She said the city had “options on the table” regarding the resettlement of evicted families, but did not want to publicise them as yet.

However, Hout Bay Civic Association spokesperson Gregg Rouw disputed the city’s claim that all the demolished dwellings were unoccupied, and questioned the legality of the city’s actions.

“Where is the court order for these people (law enforcement officials) to come and act like that,” he said.

Rouw said the owners of the unoccupied dwellings that had been torn down had been staying with family and friends while waiting to get more money to finish building their homes.

“They are staying in overcrowded homes with their families and friends while waiting to get money, to finish building the structures. There is high unemployment here. They depend on fishing to survive,” said Rouw.

Fisherman and community leader Kevin Davids, 45, said the city was using law enforcement to “infringe people’s rights”.

He said on Tuesday his friend had his eye grazed by a rubber bullet and said another resident had been hit in the genitals and was in pain.

Some Hangberg residents complained that their windows had been shattered by rubber bullets and the two schools in the community were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

With tensions in the area running high, mini bus taxies also avoided the route.

He said people started erecting shacks along the firebreak on Sentinel Hill after they heard that the Hill would be auctioned last year. The auction was called off and the land sold to SANParks.

He said residents feared that once the hill was sold they would be evicted from Hangberg which was situated on its lower slopes.

“People are willing to die before moving somewhere else,” he said.

Hout Bay Police spokesperson Tanya Lesch confirmed that 58 people were arrested on Tuesday, with 40 of them having their charges withdrawn after appearing in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court the next day.

Bail was granted to 17 others while one person was released.

Lesch said following Wednesday’s violent clashes six people were arrested for public violence, with one person also being charged for the illegal possession of ammunition.

Two suspects were injured and were admitted at Wynberg’s Victoria Hospital and two injured police officers were treated at the scene.

She was unable to say what the suspects’ injuries were. — Peter Luhanga, West Cape News

Tags: ANC, apartheid, building, cape high court, cape town, City of Cape Town, DA, Dan Plato, fishing, Helen Zille, land, protests, township, zille

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