On Tuesday morning, 21 November, the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department’s land invasion unit got an alert by their head office of people occupying land illegally at an informal settlement at Tsietsi Phase five location in Palm Ridge.
It is alleged that the land grabbers started moving in to the area when they heard that the were stands available and began building their shacks in the area, with others moving out of the places they had been renting.
Dwellers maintain that the reason they had occupied the land is that they also want to have their own places as most of them are either living in small overcrowded RDP houses with families and at back yard rooms which are very small for their families as their children are grown which makes it difficult to share the small space with their grown kids.
Others maintain that they were told by their street committees where they were previously residing of the ”legal” land available and were encouraged to move to the area, whilst others say they heard from other people of the available land in the area and went to build their shacks there.
“We were told to move to the area by our committees and they said the place was legal so we did so on Saturday while others were still moving in on Monday.”
“We were surprised when the EMPD arrived today and started demolishing our shacks and we were told that the area was illegal.”
“We haven’t seen or spoken to any of the committies who had encouraged us to move in the area today since the EMPD started demolishing our shacks,” said Morena Mofokeng one of the illegal occupants.
Upon arrival the EMPD demolished and burnt the illegally erected shacks in the area as they alleged that the place was not intended to be occupied by the people as it is very close to a river which is not a safe place for people to reside at.
Costable J.Z Kula from the EMPD said ” when we asked the land grabbers why they had erected their shacks in the area their only response was that they just wanted places to stay.”
“I wanted the place for my 94 year old crippled mother as we are living in my RDP house with my grown kids and the space is very small for all of us to share,” said Kathrine Phetla, a 63 year old occupant.
Lebohang Motaung was a tenat at Tshongweni section when she she heard of the land and immediately came to place herself in the area, her shack was also demolished as well.
Dwellers complain that they had used a lot of money for building material for their shacks only for them to be demolished this way.
“My shack was demolished and we were not even notified before, important documents including my ID were still inside that shack when the EMPD started demolishing the shacks and they didn’t even allow us to get our stuff first.”
“I had spent about R5000 for building material for my shack and had already moved out from where I was renting and moved here on Monday and today is Wednesday and my shack is destroyed so where am I expected to go now?” said Samuel Sibiya.
No community leader was available for comment regarding the illegal grabbers in the area.