Sheriff apologises for Lwandle removals

2014-07-22 18:54
(Rodger Bosch, AFP)

(Rodger Bosch, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - A Sheriff of the High Court who executed the removal of illegal shack dwellers from Sanral-owned land in Cape Town is sorry for the impact it had on residents, he said on Tuesday.

"If something like this happens again, I'll definitely handle this in a whole different manner," Deon Burger told an inquiry investigating the removals from SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) land in Lwandle on 2 and 3 June.

"I thank the inquiry that we can learn from this experience and follow guidelines and that everybody across the country can benefit, so that law can also be accommodated in our communities."

Burger said he received what he described as a court interdict granted by the Western Cape High Court on 24 January, which authorised him to remove people and structures that came onto the land after that date.

He said he met police, city officials, and Sanral's contractors to discuss the "huge task", and the first removals took place on 3 February.

More shacks were erected on the land after that date and a second round of removals took place on 2 and 3 June.

Burger initially mentioned that he was proud of the manner in which all officials had acted that day and assisted him. He also said no violence or injuries were brought to his attention.

Under questioning by inquiry members, he seemed to change his stance somewhat.

Members had asked, among other things, whether he had made provision for where the residents would be accommodated after their removal.

Burger replied that the court document in his possession did not make mention of that and agreed there should be more guidelines in future.

However, he said he and his team always prayed for the people they had to remove.

He described how his team would hold hands in the morning, have a moment of silence and pray for God to take control of the situation.

"We asked The Lord... to be a support to the communities we were removing, to realise we were only doing our jobs. I also asked God to take charge of the officials involved. They had weapons and were armed."

He said in this light, the casualties and injuries on 2 and 3 June were minimal.

"It's truly a miracle that nobody was injured and that it wouldn't erupt into a Marikana. I really thank God that it didn't happen."

Clashes with police

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, over 70 were wounded, and another 250 arrested at Lonmin's mine in Marikana, North West, in August 2012. Police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

Inquiry head Advocate Denzil Potgieter said it was really unfortunate and unnecessary, that after all the removals at Lwandle, it had been decided that residents should be returned to the land.

He thanked Burger for his submission.

"Your attitude and approach is appreciated. Unlike what some people think, we are not here to apportion blame. We are trying to find solutions," Potgieter said.

In a written submission last week, Western Cape premier Helen Zille had accused the inquiry of being a "political hit squad" aimed at apportioning blame on her province and the city of Cape Town.

Read more on:    sanral  |  cape town  |  housing

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.