After having been forced to demolish their homes under the watchful eye of the police, irate Du Noon residents set fire to the church responsible for obtaining the eviction order to force the 23 families off the churches’ land they were illegally occupying.
On Tuesday morning over thirty police officers accompanied by the Sheriff of the court forced the families living on the corner of Nyamakazi Street and Dumani Road in Du Noon to demolish their shacks.
The gun-toting police officers showed the residents the outstanding eviction court order and told them to tear down their own homes, said mother of two young children Alizwa Safani, who had been living in the informal settlement for over two years.
The demolition came after the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court granted an eviction order to the owners of the 852 square metres of land, the New Jerusalem Pentecostal Mission Church of South Africa.
New Jerusalem Pentecostal Mission Church of South Africa was seeking to evict the families as part of the requirements of selling the land to the Assemblies of God Church who had constructed a church hall there.
According to the eviction order, the residents had until August, 31, 2012 to vacate the land.
Having refused to do so, the Sheriff took action this week.
In retaliation, the residents burnt down the Assemblies of God Church on Tuesday afternoon, said Safani.
Today the evicted residents were busy rebuilding their homes and three new shacks were being erected on the ground where the church had stood.
“We’re not going anywhere. We will rebuild our shacks and we will occupy the church space,” said mother of three young children Zingaphi Madubela.
Resident Siphokazi Matana said she was very upset that people claiming to be “born again Christians” were making their lives miserable.
Matana said members of Assemblies of God church were not even residents of Du Noon. They came to worship from areas outside the township, she said.
Phoned for comment Assemblies of God Pastor Selwyn Fali, whose church has paid for the land although transfer was still pending, hung up and switched off his mobile phone.
Fali had previously said his church had tried to avoid violent confrontation with the residents illegally occupying the land they had bought but numerous meetings had been fruitless.
“Land is private property, they need to understand. We initially thought they would vacate the land peacefully,” said Fali when interviewed last month.
Milnerton Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Daphne Dell said police had assisted the Sheriff in carrying out his duties and confirmed the church had been set alight. – Peter Luhanga