Huge housing project stopped by “masked thugs”

Beneficiaries of Covid Village relocation project in Cape Town marched to Mfuleni police station to demand SAPS take action

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Dozens of shack dwellers marched on 13 June to Mfuleni police station to demand that police arrest the “thugs” who had brought their relocation project to a halt by intimidating security guards and vandalising the relocation site. Photo: Vincent Lali

  • A project to relocate more than 4,500 shack dwellers living in flood-prone areas in Driftsands Nature Reserve, Cape Town, has come to a halt.
  • This is after workers and security guards were withdrawn because of threats and intimidation by masked thugs.
  • The provincial infrastructure department says a police case has been opened and it is working with the Housing Development Agency on a recovery plan to complete the project as scheduled.

A huge project to relocate thousands of shack dwellers from flood-prone Covid Village in Driftsands Nature Reserve, Cape Town, has ground to a halt after construction workers and security guards were threatened.

The beneficiaries of the project are demanding that police protect the workers. They also want illegal occupations at the relocation site, about two kilometres away, stopped.

Last week, dozens of Driftsands shack dwellers marched to Mfuleni police station in Blue Downs to demand that police arrest the “thugs” who had intimidated security guards and vandalised the relocation site.

A community leader said “thugs” wearing masks chased away the guards and damaged a guardhouse, a fence and poles at the site. The community opened a police case.

“The relocation project has stopped because the guards and the workers say they are now scared to work on the site. They fear for their lives.’’

He accused a leader of the nearby Pumlani community of being behind the intimidation. The Pumlani community leader said the accusations were “lies”.

Some people in Pumlani say they will be affected by the relocation but they have not been consulted about the project.

Mzoli Matutu, a manager of Amandla Security Group, said the company had also opened a police case. “The attackers told the guards that the land is theirs, and the project would not continue without their involvement,’’ he said.

The company is waiting for the provincial infrastructure department to tell them when their guards may return to work.


Confronted by the protesting shack dwellers on Thursday, Lieutenant Sibulelo Mvimbi said, ‘’We can’t patrol the site around the clock because we patrol the whole of Mfuleni, and we have a shortage of police.”

Ward 114 Councillor Ernest Madikana (ANC) said City law enforcement could patrol the site ,”but there is no activity there now.’’

Western Cape police spokesperson Captain Nowonga Sukwana confirmed that no arrests had been made.

Jandre Bakker, spokesperson for the provincial infrastructure department, said a criminal case of intimidation and threats of violence had been opened at the local police station.

Bakker said the relocation of the Driftsands families will be implemented in three phases: 400 households by the end of the second quarter of the current financial year; 600 households by the end of the financial year; 1,000 households living along the dam wall by the end of the second quarter of the 2025/26 financial year.

She said the Housing Development Agency (HDA) had appointed Narian Marula JV for construction work.

Through the HDA, the department is “working on a plan to increase security on site” and a “construction recovery program” to get the project back on track, she said.

TOPICS:  Crime Housing Land

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

How can we tolerate people who are unknown by covering their identity with full face musk covering as to hide themselves, that on its own is criminality cause a criminal refuses to be identify,my input is as follows.
(1) The police must patrol the place 24/7
(2) Police must arrest lawbreakers
(3) Our previously oppressed people need houses
(4) If police are unable to control the situation, involve the army
(5) Lastly our Government cannot be held ransom for providing houses. These masked criminal must provide proof that the land belongs to them.

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