Land Invasion Control Unit sparks a riot as shacks are demolished

2014-02-14 00:00

MOTORISTS who were pelted with stones and bricks on the N2 near Umgeni Road were caught in the middle of a clash between municipal security guards and disgruntled residents of a nearby informal settlement.

Gillian Munroe of Springfield Park said she was driving from Pinetown on the M13 when she saw security guards firing rubber bullets at protesters.

“I had no idea what was happening.

“The next thing [I heard what sounded like] gunshots from automatic weapons. Huge stones and bricks rained on the security guards and everything just went crazy,” said Munroe.

She said construction workers at the N2 interchange moved to an upper part of the construction site.

“As I was moving away after the robots finally turned green, I looked back, and boy, the riot was escalating.”

The residents allege that the Municipal Land Invasion Control Unit arrived at the settlement to demolish newly-built shacks, but they also demolished shacks which were built years ago.

To prevent the proliferation of shacks in the city, the municipality decided to monitor and demolish any newly built shack, municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said.

Nolufefe Nzimande, who claims to have stayed in the settlement for five years, said she tried to explain to the security guards that her shack had been in the area for years, but they went ahead and demolished part of it.

“These people are not the listening type. They just demolished our homes despite our efforts to reason with them and the residents got angry and we started throwing stones.

“They shot at us with rubber bullets and some of us were injured,” she said, adding that her television set and amplifier were damaged.

Only four shacks were demolished as the residents stood their ground.

Area councillor (Ward 25) Bhekisani Ngcobo confirmed Nzimande’s statement.

“Residents became angry when older shacks were demolished instead of the newly built dwellings. This shouldn’t have happened but we managed to calm the situation,” said Ngcobo.

Abahlali Basemjondolo spokesperson Philani Jali said there were no newly built shacks in the area.

“If there were, why demolish them? All four shacks that were demolished were built years ago,” said Jali.

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