Demolition: uMngeni gets court order; residents evicted

16 12 2008

15 Dec 2008
Thando Mgaga

More than a hundred residents were left homeless after the uMngeni Municipality bulldozed their shacks to the ground at kwaKani informal settlement near the Cedara College yesterday.

Families with children — among them orphans in the care of neighbours — were left to fend for themselves in the rain.

They were left without blankets and food and the demolishers did not allow them to remove their belongings before bulldozing their shacks to the ground.

When The Witness visited the area, the homeless families had sought refuge in an abandoned four-room brick house near the informal settlement.

They said their pleas to have their belongings spared fell on deaf ears and they were told by the demolishers that the municipality had given them more than enough time to move.

One of the residents, Sibongile Mlaba, said the municipality asked them to vacate the area. “We asked [the municipality] to provide us with alternative accommodation or land and they refused, saying that we must just move,” said Mlaba.

Johnson Ngcobo said the shacks were “completely” destroyed.

“We don’t have anywhere else to go. We have small children and we are afraid that we might be raped and attacked by criminals,” said Fikile Mbatha.

Some of the residents claim they have been in the area for 13 years.

uMngeni municipal manager Dumisani Vilakazi said he could not answer why the shacks were demolished with furniture, food and belongings still inside, as he was not there during the evictions.

“They were warned before they moved to that place that they were not supposed to build there. I personally had two meetings with them and told them that. Because they did not respond positively to what we had told them, we had no choice but to approach the court, which ruled that they must be evicted. It was all done in terms of an eviction order of the high court,” said Vilakazi.

He said the demolition was a joint effort between the municipality with its security officials, the sheriff of the court and the police. He said the order did not require that any alternative shelter be provided for the illegal dwellers and dismissed claims that people have lived there for 13 years.

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