Lwandle evictions: I had no money to pay rent

2014-07-29 23:05
Workers dismantle shacks in Lwandle (Rodger Bosch, AFP)

Workers dismantle shacks in Lwandle (Rodger Bosch, AFP)

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Cape Town - A man built a structure on Sanral-owned land in Cape Town after he lost his job and could not pay rent for a backyard dwelling, he said on Tuesday.

Testifying at an inquiry probing removals of people and structures from the land last month, Daluxolo Mvoko said he built the dwelling in January.

Before losing his job and moving, he had rented a backyard dwelling for himself, wife, and four children in Nomzamo for seven years.

"We as the community, who are backyarders, had a meeting and... we agreed that because we are in dire need of our own property and place, we will go and occupy that land. That's where that decision came from," he said.

He did not pay money to anyone for a plot nor ask for permission.

The structure was demolished in the first round of removals in February, but he rebuilt it in the same spot because he had nowhere else to go.

The area councillor warned him the land belonged to the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and that he might be removed at any time.

On 2 June, he was getting his children ready for creche when he heard a loud noise, looked outside and saw the area was filled with police officers.

His structure was demolished and he struggled to get his children away from the teargas. They witnessed the removals and still showed signs of anxiety at loud signs or large crowds, he said.

Inquiry member Butch Steyn asked why he had never applied for government housing or a housing subsidy.

"I am sure you are aware that government builds RDP houses. You obviously don't have a house and that's why you are a squatter. How do you explain not applying for a house?" he asked.

Mvoko replied that he considered it to be a waste of time because he had met people in the city who had been waiting for 20 years for a government house.

Steyn asked whether he was saying it was quicker to get a house by "doing what you are doing" instead of following procedure.

Mvoko said he had not thought moving onto the land would be an easy way to get a house. It was simply a decision he made to ensure he would not have to pay rent and could make ends meet.

He was asked whether he would accept a theoretical offer by government to receive a house in place of the person who had been waiting 20 years, or whether he would rather let them have the house and take a piece of land.

"I won't say to the government give it to the person who has been waiting 20 years. I would say give it to me," Mvoko replied, to much laughter.

Steyn chuckled and shook his head.

The inquiry resumes its oral hearings in the Lwandle community hall on Thursday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    cape town  |  lwandle evictions
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