If you buy a shack in an informal settlement you might not be able to live in it. This is the message from the City of Cape Town Anti-Land Invasion Unit. And its written down in the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from, and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE Act).This was brought to the attention of an unfortunate resident in Khayelitsha’s Monwabisi Park WP Section informal settlement last week.
Resident Nosisa Siyolo used to live in a shack in WP Section until she got married in March last year. She moved in with her husband and let a relative stay in her old home.
But then bad luck struck. Her husband got sick and died in August.
In order to pay the funeral costs, she sold her shack for R2000.
The buyer, who would only give her name as Buseka, paid R1000 upfront and promised to pay the rest later.
But she said when she tried to move into the shack the city’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit told her she had bought the shack and not the land, as the land belonged to the city. So she dismantled the shack and kept the materials.
However, she couldn’t come up with the remaining R1000 she owed Siyolo, who reclaimed her materials last weekend.
Then, when Siyolo tried to rebuild her shack on her old site, the Anti-Land Invasion Unit stopped her, saying it was city land and she could not live there.
Siyolo said this was despite her having obtained permission from the Monwabisi Park residents’ committee.
Resident’s committee chairperson Mzimasi Masele said he had given a letter of permission to Siyolo and was waiting for a report back from her.
“I am the one who has to speak to law enforcement,” he said.
And residents said Siyolo is not the first person who has been prevented from rebuilding their shack. A similar thing happened to Nolinothi Siwunga.
Siwunga, 58, said: “Last year during the December holidays I went to the Eastern Cape, leaving my son to take care of the house.”
But she said when she returned, her home was gone.
“The residents’ committee chairperson told me that law enforcement demolished it because my son and his friends were smoking dagga there.”
Siwunga said she went to the metro offices and told them she was back and needed to rebuild her home.
“But they told me the land belong to them. I went to lots of their offices and got no help. I don’t know what to do anymore, I don’t have a place to stay.”
She said up until now she had been staying with her sister but had decided to go back to the Eastern Cape.
Head of the Anti-Land Invasion Unit, Stephen Hayward, said: “Despite the fact that someone may have been living there illegally for a while, once they vacated the site and the structure has been demolished, the city had a right as land owner to demolish the new illegal structure that was built, as it was new and they did not have permission to build it.”
Hayward said according to the PIE Act, it was also illegal to sell land that does not belong to you unless you had permission from the landowner.
He said he would be interested to see the permission granted to Siyolo by the residents’ committee. – Nombulelo Damba, West Cape News