Residents protest against demolition of illegal shacks

2018-10-19 06:00

FOLLOWING unsuccessful attempts by legal representation to have demolition halted, community members of Harry Gwala Park, Matatiele, who were served with notices to remove their illegal backyard shacks witnessed the destruction of more than 15 shacks following the expiration of their 30 day notice period.

Residents were given until Friday, October 5 to remove the shacks but they did not comply as directed.

It is not the first time that illegally-built structures have been knocked-down in the area.

On August 29, a number of residents lost their belongings when the municipality tore down shacks in the area. At that time, demolition was halted because no notices had been served.

In the September 14 edition of the Fever, Matatiele Local Municipality spokesperson Olwethu Gwanya said the decision to tear down the buildings was granted by the court because they had been built illegally.

At the time, she said the court order was granted in 2015 but implementation was delayed.

Community leader Fundiswa Nyamakazi confirmed that 66 notices were given to community members about removing illegal shacks in 2014. When they went to court in 2014 to stop the demolition, they lost the case.

“Some community members are staying in old RDP houses and they built shacks as an alternative to accommodate families. The 32 RDP houses have leaking roofs following a disaster in 2014,” said Nyamakazi.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Matatiele have ordered the community to continue building shacks until they get new houses from government.

Local EFF councillor Tumo Mothapa said the party will defend the community.

Community member Lillian Phohledi (68) said she has been living in an RDP house for the past 18 years and has built a shack to accommodate her nine children and grandchildren because her RDP house was very small.

Phohledi’s shack in the backyard was destroyed in August, however she re-erected it to benefit her children.

Angry community members blocked streets in the area on Monday evening and Tuesday to protest against the demolition of the illegal shacks.

“When Matatiele was under the KwaZulu-Natal Province, 1224 RDP houses were built without being approved by National Home Builders Registration Council and people have been waiting for government to renovate their homes and be approved by NHBRC,” said Nombulelo Mathambo, a Ward 20 community development worker.

SAPS spokesman Captain Raphael Motloung said no vandalism had been reported and police will be monitoring the situation until it returns to normal.

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