There were celebrations and ululations in Hammanskraal after Human Settlements MEC Paul Mashatile announced that not only would the community be allowed to return to their shacks from which they had been evicted, but that the area would be developed to accommodate them.
The MEC intervened after all hell broke loose when private security officials evicted shack dwellers and demolished their shacks on Monday. Two security officials were killed in the chaotic clashes between community members and security officials. At least two buses and several other vehicles were torched and damaged.
Today’s announcement was expected to bring peace and calm to Hammanskraal.
Mashatile met with representatives of the affected communities, the Tshwane Metro Municipality as well as the traditional leadership in Hammanskraal earlier today.
He announced that the evictions and demolition of shacks in in Kanana, Sekampaneng and Suurman informal settlements would be halted following an understanding of the land had been occupied. Mashatile said the residents thought that they were allowed to be there.
“They were under the impression that they weren’t doing anything wrong. Some of them said they were allowed to live there by the traditional leaders,” he said. There were also reports that an ANC councillor had given people permission to live there.
Shacks had increased from about 100 to more than 3500 when the municipality stepped in and acquired the eviction order.
Hostility across Hammanskraal only started simmering after Mashatile emerged out of the meeting with the “good news” for the defiant community, who had vowed not to vacate the land they had allegedly invaded.
Mashatile said development plans would be initiated to build houses for those who had been evicted.
A community leader, Fortune Mathabathe, who attended the meeting with Mashatile, described the community’s joy at the news.
He expressed his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives but said they were “acting in self defence”.
“People just came in, breaking our houses ... we didn’t know what was happening.”
Mathabathe said the defiance and subsequent protests were because residents were not notified of the intended eviction.
Mashatile said a steering committee had been appointed to deal with the matter. This would include shack marking to ensure that those who were evicted returned to their spots. The process would be recorded to avoid new people coming in and expecting to benefit from the intended development.