Museum: Lwandle remains dislocated and invisible

2014-09-10 18:24
Workers dismantle shacks in Lwandle (Rodger Bosch, AFP)

Workers dismantle shacks in Lwandle (Rodger Bosch, AFP)

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Cape Town - The Lwandle township in Cape Town was "off the map" until people and structures were recently violently removed from the land there, the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum said on Wednesday.

Acting chairperson of the museum's board, Noeleen Murray, said although media coverage had thrust the area into the spotlight since the removals on 2 June and 3 June, it remained dislocated and invisible.

She said the name of the affected informal settlement within the area, Siyanyanzela, had rarely been used.

"The Google car had not even been into Lwandle," she told an inquiry investigating the removals, showing the search engine's largely sparse map of the area.

When she asked how many inquiry members had visited the museum only one or two people raised hands. Inquiry chairperson Denzil Potgieter smiled and said her invite had been noted.

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu set up the inquiry to probe the forced removals from the SA National Roads Agency Limited road reserve.

Murray said the area had a history of marginalisation since its establishment in 1958 as a site for migrant labourers in single-sex hostels.

In the late 1980s, residents in nearby Strand petitioned for the removal of Lwandle, considering its residents an "uncontrolled social problem".

When a democratic government was elected in the 1990s, hostels were turned into family housing and solar water heaters were installed on the roofs.

"In 2014, soon after the evictions, they [the heaters] started to disappear from rooftops as they were sold off for scrap metal," Murray said.

She said there was a housing market emerging in Lwandle, and this was accompanied by increased calls for fencing, closed off spaces and security.

The inquiry on Wednesday heard submissions from legal and policy research institutions, including the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which was conducting its own investigation into the removals.

SAHRC commissioner Mohamed Ameermia said evictions should be done humanely and abide by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.

"In conclusion, we have got to look at evictions in a humane way in the spirit of ubuntu [African concept of humanity]," he said.

Plans should also be made for alternative accommodation and municipalities should be joined to any eviction order to facilitate these contingency plans.

Lwandle evictees were forced to find shelter in the Nomzamo community hall.

Potgieter said more than 300 people were still living in the hall three months after the eviction.

"We are not sure what the developments around that are going to be but we are keeping an eye on that aspect," Potgieter said.

The inquiry previously heard that people would be moved back to the land they were evicted from. Sanitation and basic services were being provided.

After visiting the land on Tuesday, the inquiry found that 483 temporary structures had been erected and occupied.

Relevant parties, such as non-governmental organisations, political parties and ordinary people, were invited to make final submissions by next Monday. The inquiry could schedule further oral hearings after considering these submissions.

Read more on:    cape town  |  lwandle evictions

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