'This is not a land invasion' - Hammanskraal community member

2016-05-24 12:33
Residents protesting in front of the the Municipal offices in Hammanskraal. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

Residents protesting in front of the the Municipal offices in Hammanskraal. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

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Pretoria - Protesting residents in Hammanskraal did not invade land, a community member said on Tuesday.

"You must understand that Extension 3, the place where we are at now, this place has been approved by the City of Tshwane, this place has been budgeted for," Fortune Matabane told reporters gathered in the area.

"So these people should have no reason why they should be evicted or removed from their place of residence."

He said the councillor in the area had announced live on radio and at community meetings that people were allowed to occupy the land and that services would follow.

"They’re not occupying land out of nowhere. This place is not being invaded... they were told to come and live here by our councillor, by officials from the City of Tshwane." Matabane said they were shocked when the Red Ants, a security company, were sent into the area to demolish shacks.

5 arrested

The Red Ants, dressed in their red overalls, started demolishing the residents' shacks on Monday after the City of Tshwane obtained a court order.

This sparked violent protests in the area which saw roads being blocked with burning tyres and rocks. Several vehicles have also been burnt and stones and petrol bombs were thrown at the Red Ants.

Two members of the Red Ants were killed on Monday when residents protested their eviction. 

On Tuesday morning, black smoke was bellowing over the township with protesters standing at most street corners.

Residents said they would only stop protesting if Gauteng Premier David Makhura or Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa came to address them. Schoolchildren in the area had resorted to walking to school as cars and taxis were being turned away from Harry Gwala road.  

Earlier, Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Tsekiso Mofokeng said five people had been arrested on Monday night. They had been charged with public violence and damaging property.

Call for calm

Residents have vowed to continue their protest against being evicted from Sekampaneng, a township inside Hammanskraal.

Matabane said a community meeting was held on Tuesday morning and residents as well as police were urged to stay calm.

"No one should go and burn and block roads, no one should go and vandalise anything, no one should attack any law enforcement people, [and] no one should attack people from the media," Matabane said.

"We want to appeal to the police as well to calm down and not to use violence and not evict our people in the manner they were evicting people yesterday.

"This manner in which police officers are coming into our communities and breaking everything and shooting everybody is not assisting anyone moving forward."

He said community members were now waiting for city and provincial officials to come and talk to them.

"Give them a way forward, unlike yesterday when they just appeared from nowhere, started shooting rubber bullets at people, started breaking people's houses, using military tanks and Nyalas to vandalise their furniture," Matabane said.

Residents protesting in front of the Municipal offices in Hammanskraal. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

Residents on their way to the Municipal offices in Hammanskraal to protest. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

Read more on:    pretoria  |  protests

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