A row of more than 10 shacks in Max Informal Settlement, which were apparently encroaching on the Great North Road in Kempton Park, were demolished by metro police officers on Tuesday morning, Kempton Express reports.
According to some of the residents, the officers came on Monday afternoon at 4pm to inform them to move their shacks. They said they would return the next morning to demolish those shacks still standing.
“Those who were informed of the planned demolition [woke up] very early on Tuesday and began to take the shacks down. When the metro police arrived they were not yet done. We asked them to give us a few more hours and although some wanted to halt the process, others went ahead and demolished the shacks,” residents said.
“We were not given enough time. It was less than 24 hours, and they saw that people were taking down the shacks. We not only had to worry about removing the shacks, we also had to worry about alternative accommodation in less than 24 hours.
“It was heartbreaking to see a three-year-old crying when he looked at his demolished home,” one resident added.
The residents were also concerned that their belongings and building materials were damaged as the residents removed it with caution, whereby the metro police used hammers and sticks and kicked down some of the shacks.
Ward councillor André du Plessis said the informal settlement had been there for quite a while, but it seemed to have mushroomed the past few months.
“I am lead to believe this exercise was aimed at the new shacks that had been built very close to the road reserve on Great North Road,” said Du Plessis.
According to him, it is dangerous for residents to live so close to a road, and it is also illegal to build any dwelling or structure on a road reserve anywhere in the country.
“There have also been some serious accidents when people walk across the road to the settlement. I am not sure about any fatalities, but it has become a bit of a traffic hazard so the metro police were forced to step in for various reasons.
“It was also a case of enforcing the bylaws and protecting the people from getting hurt.”
Two leaders at the informal settlement, Abel Maoto and Masentle Moreki, agreed that although there was concern about the manner in which the officers handled the demolition and where the residents would find other accommodation, they had previously advised against the building of those shacks.
“Residents were already removing the shacks cautiously not to damage their belongings, but the officers damaged materials and belongings. The other thing is that some of the shacks not in question were also destroyed,” Moreki said.
“The officers explained the shacks should be 10 metres from the road and those shacks had encroached on to that space.”
Maoto said: “These shacks were built a year ago, even after we advised against it. We were told there was a drainage pipe where the 10 metres end, and we should build beyond that point.
“It is believed a fence will be erected near where the shacks were. We might not like the way it was done, as some of the shacks not in question were also affected, but truth be told, they came and gave warning even prior to Monday.”
Kempton Express is awaiting comment from the metro police regarding the incident.