100 shacks demolished by City of Joburg on rainy weekend

Red Ants tore down land occupiers’ homes in Glen Austin, Midrand, on Friday and Sunday

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About 100 shacks were demolished on government land in Glen Austin in Midrand, Johannesburg, on the weekend. Photo: Silver Sibiya

People occupying government land in Glen Austin in Midrand, Johannesburg, have criticised the “heartless” manner in which their shacks were demolished on the cold, wet weekend. About 100 households were left homeless.

Metro police accompanied the Red Ants on Friday and Sunday to demolish the shacks, mostly made of board, plastic and zinc sheets.

The City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Department of Human Settlement said an interdict prohibiting anyone settling on the land was already obtained in 2017.

However, community leader Zakhele Ntuli said that when they asked officials to show them the order, they did not do so. “They said we must go to the police station in Rabie Ridge,” he said.

“It would have been understandable if they were removing unoccupied shacks, but they just targeted everyone.”

Ntuli said the community would meet today to “discuss the way forward”. Most of the affected people had occupied the land in August, when the settlement began to mushroom.

When GroundUp arrived, people were sitting in the rain alongside piles of rubble where their homes once stood. Some had started rebuilding.

Galdwin Sebata said they were not given notice of the demolition. “We were surprised when we were attacked by Red Ants,” he said.

He accused the Red Ants of not being properly trained to act in an appropriate manner. “They wrecked homes and took everything, including furniture,” he said.

The City’s human settlement spokesperson Neo Goba said the occupiers had ignored the court order.

“Despite numerous engagements, the invaders ignored the interdict and continued to erect structures over the vast land, straddling City and [provincial] department-owned land,” he said.

Goba said that over the years several demolition attempts were stopped midway when various groups approached courts. “But these attempts to delay and rescind this action failed,” he said.

He said the land occupation had delayed a planned development for the community.

TOPICS:  Housing

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