Protesters want a place to live

2016-02-24 09:58
A group of boys push forward a steel frame that was later used as a fort to shield them from hailing rubber bullets and for them to pelt rocks and stones at Law Enforcement agencies.

A group of boys push forward a steel frame that was later used as a fort to shield them from hailing rubber bullets and for them to pelt rocks and stones at Law Enforcement agencies. (Chevon Booysen)

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Chaos ensued in Parkwood on Tuesday afternoon.

Tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets were the order of the day when residents of the newly-erected and already demolished informal settlement, Skiemsaam, protested on Acacia Road.

Following the demolition of the 50 illegal structures on the corner of Acacia Road and Falcon Way, the squatters set tyres alight in the road and pelted rocks and stones at law enforcement agencies and the Anti-Land Invasion Unit.
People’s Post reported on the illegal land invasion on Tuesday (New settlement sprouts) after Law Enforcement and the Anti-Land Invasion Unit were initially sent into the area on Monday to remove the structures. This was however only done yesterday (Tuesday) just after midday.

One of the squatters, who did not want to be named, says they were “peaceful all the time”. “Just after noon they (Law Enforcement) fired two warning shots into the air without violence from our side. This community then retaliated because they had no right to shoot at us after we co-operated with them the entire time,” she says.

Benjamin Adams who is part of the Parkwood Forum says people are frustrated that their concerns were not addressed accordingly.
“People are angry because they have been put off the land without a court order. Liaising only took place with a small delegation and even this was unfruitful,” Adams says.
The squatters and residents from the area were locked in a stand off with authorities on Acacia Road pelting rocks and shouting profanities at Law Enforcement who in turn reacted by firing rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.

Jeanette Josephs (70) woman was one of the people who were hit by rubber bullets. “I just returned home from Sassa and I was in my yard already when I was hit by a rubber bullet. This is not right, innocent people are now getting hurt,” Josephs says.

The squatters have already threatened to rebuild their structures.
The area was cordoned off and traffic from Klip Road was redirected on alternative routes.
Opportunistic individuals used the incident for their own benefit when they looted a shop in Blackbird Avenue. Various other tuck-shop owners were forced to close up shop after they were also threatened.

Grassy Park police spokesperson Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith says the area has been stabilised and is quiet today (Wednesday).

“Last night there was burning of tyres again but eventually they stopped. The area is quiet today,” Kleinsmith confirms.

She adds that some had started building shacks on the open erf again but residents in the vicinity broke it down.

Mayoral committee member for Human Settlements, Benedicta van Minnen released a statement saying the City of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU) had to act to protect land that was illegally invaded in Parkwood Estate.
“The invasion started on Sunday evening when a group of backyard dwellers erected illegal structures in Acacia Road. When ALIU staff arrived at the scene at about 22:30 that night, they found 50 residents in the process of erecting small structures. They warned the group that they were acting unlawfully and that they should take down the structures,” Van Minnen says. 
She says staff engaged with the group on Monday morning at about 09:00 warning that they should “refrain from erecting illegal structures.”
“A City facilitator then met with all role players, including the local ward councillor and representatives of the backyarders, to try and resolve the situation. At this meeting it was agreed that the backyarder representatives would return to the group and explain to them that they had to take down their illegal structures,” she says.
However, the group refused and the illegal structures were still in place on Tuesday despite multiple warnings and engagement.
“The City and police removed 63 unoccupied illegally erected structures. Unfortunately, the community reacted with violence and aggression, despite all of the attempts at engagement and prior warning. A group of about 200 residents threw stones at City and police and burnt tyres,” she confirms.
Van Minnen says the City will continue to monitor the area and “take all necessary precautions to prevent further illegal land invasions”.
“Not only is this a constitutional responsibility, but it is borne from practical considerations. The housing need in the city is acute and the City must therefore ensure a fair and systematic housing delivery process, to the benefit of all residents. This includes preventing illegal land invasions which result in poor access to City services, continual flooding, high crime rates, and poor connections with economic opportunities.”
The City will continue to engage with residents in the area, Van Minnen concluded.

Jeanette Josephs (70) and Godfrey Pierce were both hit by rubber bullets while standing in Josephs’ yard. 

A Nyala truck responded to the area to contain protest action along Acacia Road.

  A young man stands in front of burning tyres opposite the open erf where illegal shacks were built and then destroyed.

A huge crowd from Parkwood threw bricks and stones at police and law enforcement agencies saying they were angry with the action taken to demolish shacks.

Burning tyres were a common scene along Acacia Road yesterday afternoon.

Demolished shacks can be seen on the open land on the corners of Acacia Road and Falcon Way in Parkwood. The shacks were built illegally and the Anti Land Invasion Unit were tasked with the demolition of about 50 informal structures.

Law enforcement agencies were on standby during the day while protest action ensued in Parkwood. 

Law enforcement officers look at a group of approaching protestors.

Law enforcement officers had to disperse crowds with stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas.

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