'Where must I go?' asks man as shacks demolished in Dunoon

"Where must I go?" asked Justice Mabaleka repeatedly as the Red Ants tore down shacks on a privately owned tract of land next to Dunoon, north of Cape Town. 

Not far from him, a lone butternut and one onion lay next to a plate on a piece of linoleum - the sides and roof of the shack already thrown onto a Red Ants truck.

With a spectacular view of Table Mountain behind him and Public Order Police and the Red Ants armed unit at a distance in front of him, he said he had moved to the site three months ago.

It is owned by Welbeloond wedding and accommodation venue, where one portion has already been expropriated to build Malibongwe Boulevard to accommodate the heavy traffic from the N7.

Owner Andrew Mellish confirmed that Thursday's eviction was by an order the company had applied for.

A similar eviction was carried out on Tuesday by the City of Cape Town. Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said a man in his thirties was arrested during protests related to the eviction and will be charged with public violence."

'It is vital to protect land from illegal occupation'

The City of Cape Town said that on Tuesday no evictions "as per the law took place" but the city conducted operations to remove unoccupied, illegally erected structures in accordance with counter-spoliation. This means it is a common law remedy that protects property considered under threat. 

"It is vital to protect land from illegal occupation. Illegal occupation leads to fire, health and flooding risks and places an enormous strain on our resources as a city," it stated.

Councillor Malusi Booi added that on Thursday the operation was at the behest of the owner of the land to clear vacant structures on the land, assisted by the Sheriff of the Court, a security company to remove the structures, and law enforcement authorities.

"Private landowners are encouraged to ensure that their land is protected within the framework of the law against invasion especially large, open tracts of unattended land," said Booi.

About 110 shacks were demolished, News24 earlier reported.

Dunoon, police

Police in Dunoon preparing for demolition of shacks in Dunoon, Cape Town. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Mellish said the land for the road was expropriated for the expansion of a boulevard into a dual carriage way. 

'I feel bad for these people'

Speaking over the clattering of crowbar on zinc and hammering, a jobless Mabelaka explained that he had built a shack on the Welbeloond land because he had no money for rent. 

"What will happen when my children come home from school today?" he asked.

One of the Red Ants employees told News24: "I feel bad for these people," as he carried wooden support poles to a truck.

"But I can't help it, I must feed my children," he said. "I'm sorry."

Another man who did not want to be named said he lived there rent-free because he had not found a job after matric.

"My family told me I am an adult and I must leave home," he said. "But I didn't get a job."

Baxolele Madolo, who said his name means "I forgive them", said the eviction squad was making them feel like criminals. 

He said ordinarily police took a long time to come if a rape or murder was committed, but they are in full force for evictions.

'Rich people have a government'

"There is no government for us. Rich people have a government," he said angrily.

The residents were very concerned about what would happen to their possessions, and the makings of their shacks.

The costs range from around R3 000 for all the materials and a shack accommodates sometimes seven people.

A policeman said their personal belongings would be left behind for them to retrieve. 

Some said their identity documents were inside their shacks, and they might not be able to vote on May 8 in the provincial and national government elections.

News24 has previously heard that the Dunoon area has become very popular for residents because it is on a bus and taxi route, close to job opportunities as the surrounding areas are developed, and for landlords because of the rental earning potential. 

Andrew Mellish, owner of Welbeloond said "everything was under control" after the eviction. 

Mayor Dan Plato is expected to open a new library in Dunoon on Friday.

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