News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Friday November 28th 2014

Evictions spark Du Noon protests

The homes of 23 families illegally living on church-owned land in Du Noon sparked running protests yesterday. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

The homes of 23 families illegally living on church-owned land in Du Noon sparked running protests yesterday. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

18.03.2013

Running protests in Du Noon yesterday were sparked by the demolition of shacks illegally built on land owned by a church in the township.

Potsdam Road was blocked with rubble and burning tyres yesterday as about 100 people dodged police rolling through the township in Nyalas.

Earlier in the day, for the second time in a week 23 families who have been illegally occupying privately-owned land in Du Noon watched as law enforcement officials tore down their homes.

Young and elderly women, some with babies tied to their back and some heavily pregnant, stood helplessly in the rain as an eviction order granted to the owners of the land – a church – was enforced.

The Sheriff of the court was accompanied by more than 20 police officers wearing riot protective gears and armed with batons, pepper spray and shotguns loaded with rubber bullets.

The family’s homes were torn down on Tuesday last week and in retaliation, residents burnt down a church built on the same piece of land and rebuilt their shacks, some of them on the ashes of the church, the next day.

Yesterday police cordoned off the parameters of the informal settlement situated on the Conner of Nyamakazi Street and Dumani Road and labourers tore down the shacks under the watchful eye of the police.

Residents’ belongings, including furniture, television sets and crockery were damaged in the process.

Then at about 10am incensed residents took to the streets.

Traffic was brought to a standstill on an already disrupted road undergoing upgrades for further implementation of MyCiTi buses Phase1A which is to roll out in Du Noon at the end of the year.

Protestors fled after seeing two police Nyala’s approaching the scene of their protests, but later blockaded another portion of Potsdam Road near to the N7.

Protests then spread along the township main roads, with residents emptying rubbish bins onto the streets before vandalising an empty shop on the corner of Dumani Road and Mnandi Avenue believed to be owned by the Assemblies of God pastor whose church had bought the land from which the squatters were being evicted.

A protestor was seen tearing a bible before setting it alight.

Another Somali shop believed to be rented from the pastor narrowly escaped being looted but community leaders negotiated with the protestors.

Following the re-erection of the shacks following demolition last week, police fenced off the land yesterday.

Marina Thonga, who has four children and is eight months pregnant with her fifth, said she had been living on the site for six years.

Thonga said police kicked open the doors to her shack just after 8am yesterday and told her to vacate her home immediately.

Thonga said they were not given a chance to remove their belongings.

“All my clothes, My ID, my husband ID, my grant card are all lost in the demolition,” said Thonga.

“We don’t know what to do. We need help,” she said.

Lulama Mkhangele, 28, had been living on the church land since 2009.

He said it appeared the church was more important than shelter for human beings.

Mother of two young children Alizwa Safani, who had been living in the informal settlement for over two years said when her children returned from school yesterday they would find they had no home left.

Other parents who had gone to work and would return to find their homes demolished and their possessions scattered, said Safani.

The demolition came following the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court in October 2011 granting an eviction order to New Jerusalem Pentecostal Mission Church of South Africa who own the 852 square metres of land.

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. – Peter Luhanga

 

 

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