“An eviction order stops but an interdict is an ongoing thing. Until finalised, it remains intact,” Deon Burger told an inquiry investigating the evictions on June 2 and June 3.
He was first tasked with executing a Western Cape High Court order granted on January 24, to remove people from land owned by the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).
Inquiry head advocate Denzil Potgieter had said he had not seen any mention of the word “eviction” on the order.
Burger replied the interdict allowed removal of people, structures, and building materials that came onto the land after January 24.
He met various police officials and Cape Town land invasion, law enforcement and traffic officials on January 28 to discuss the best way to execute the “huge task” ahead of them.
At a meeting a few days later, it was decided that people and structures would be removed on February 3.
Burger said he met with police, city officials and Sanral’s contractor at the Strand police station before the eviction that day and then proceeded to the site.
“Upon their arrival [at the site], the court order was read out in three languages: English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa. After this, eight notice boards were erected. Not all structures could be removed,” he said.
Building material and possessions were marked and taken to Sanral-owned land in Gordon’s Bay and Somerset West.
On March 28, Sanral’s attorney issued a notice to Burger to remove new structures on the land. Burger said lawyers returned to court to extend the initial court interdict.
“Police could not assist until the general election was over. After the election, police were committed to parliamentary activities,” he said.
Public order police suggested on May 14 that alternate arrangements be made because 183 structures had been built on the land.
He said Sanral hired extra security guards to patrol the land and a contractor to build a fence.
A second round of shack removals was discussed at a final meeting at the Faure police station on May 26.
“We were very concerned about the weather and that’s why a detailed weather forecast was downloaded from the internet. It did not show any rain for June 2 and June 3.”
The same parties met at the police station on the morning of June 2 and went to the site, where someone had removed the notice boards.
“We were met by petrol bombs, rocks, and road blocks that were burning,” Burger said.
People were warned about the removals with loudspeakers. By 3.30pm, 80 shacks had been removed.
On June 3, Burger said they were again greeted by petrol bombs, rocks, and road blocks. He said some people threw petrol bombs into their own structures and removed their belongings.
All shacks were removed by 3.30pm.
Burger said the councillor in the area, Mbuyiselo Matha, was not given a copy of the order or notice for both evictions.
“At 6pm, I received an e-mail from the instructing attorney to stop all instructions on the court order,” Burger said.
He said he was not told the reasons for halting the execution of the interdict.
Had the e-mail not arrived, they would have completed the fencing around the land.
The inquiry, set up by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, has until August 5 to conclude its work.