Informal dwellers have vowed to return to an open space of land near Danville, north of Pretoria, where they were forcefully evicted by police and Red Ants security officers on Thursday.
“This is not over. If government thinks they have won this fight, then they are just fooling themselves. I need a home in South Africa, the land of my forefathers,” said one squatter, who only identified himself as Mokoena.
“We are prepared to die for this land. This is the place where we will raise our children. We don’t care who owns it. My children need a home now.”
Some of the squatters vowed that they would start erecting shacks as soon as the police left the area.
The land occupiers scattered when police used water cannons on the crowd, which included numerous women.
Newly-appointed Tshwane MMC for housing and human settlements Mandla Nkomo said he was still gathering the facts to determine the real owner of the contested land.
“When we have all the facts, then we will be able to let you know what will happen,” said Nkomo.
Roads in the vicinity of the informal settlements were heavily barricaded with large boulders and burning tyres. The squatters said heavily armed police officers arrived at the area, showed them a court interdict and only told them the land was bought by property development company Cosmopolitan and was earmarked for building houses.
Soon after the skirmishes broke out, Lawyers for Human Rights dispatched a team to monitor the situation and provide legal services to the displaced.
“We would like to know what facts were put before the court. If people already invaded from last Monday, Cosmopolitan was supposed to apply for an urgent eviction order and not an interdict. Parties tend to rather apply for an interdict in order to avoid the stringent requirements of Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation Act,” said Lawyers for Human Rights attorney Louise du Plessis.
“We again question the amount of violence used by the security companies in big evictions and feel it is an issue which needs to go to court.”
– African News Agency (ANA)