AEC Note: (1) There were closer to 1,000 people at the march, rather than just 400 estimated in this article. (2) Also, the march, while it did not have a permit, was a legal march according to the Gatherings Act.
Thursday July 28th 2011 – West Cape News
The city’s application to evict thousands of people from city-owned land in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain was today postponed by the
Western Cape High Court to August 30.
Judge Nonkosi Saba postponed the matter as the respondents (backyarders) had only filed their papers on Monday. As a result the city could not file their reply in time for today’s court date.
Sheldon Magardie from Lawyers for Human Rights, said the LHR was representing 16 of the 4000 backyarders who were evicted from city-owned land in Tafelsig on May 14. The 16 respondents are those who have remained on the land.
About 400 people from Mitchells Plain Residents and Backyarders Association, Proudly Manenberg, and sympathetic NGOs, gathered in front of the High Court in support of the backyarders’ application and to protest the lack of land and housing for Cape Town’s poor.
Demonstrator Mary Petersen from Elsies River said about 50 people from Leonsdale Community in Elsies River had come to support the backyarders.
“We are here because we have the same issues like them in Elsies River where backyard dwellers are being evicted,” she said.
The demonstrators held placards with slogans proclaiming: ‘Give us houses not hassels (sic),’ ‘Take my Tent…Kill me Quick?, ‘Power to the People. We support the Tafelsig Occupiers! 74 days, no shelter…slow death’.
Shortly before noon the crowd embarked on an unauthorised march to the Civic Centre to hand over a memorandum to Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille.
Police, armed with batons, followed the chanting crowd.
Chairperson of the Mitchells Plain Backyarders Association, Charles Adams, said the memorandum had several demands. These included that land be made available for housing for the poor, that the city’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit be dissolved, that backyarders whose shelters were demolished in May be compensated, that public violence cases pending against 19 of the Tafelsig residents be withdrawn, that the city meet with community organisations to look at alternative ways of resolving the issue of land for the poor, and that the court case between the city and the backyarders be withdrawn.
Adams said the court case would be a “struggle” and a “long fight” for the backyarders and they would prefer that land be made available for housing.
Although the organizations did not get a permit from the city for the march, they decided to go ahead nonetheless.
Adams said the permit was denied because they refused to abide with city stipulations that a maximum delegation of three representatives meet with the city.
He said de Lille accepted their memorandum and said she would respond within 14 days.
The Independent Complaints Directorate is currently investigating allegations of Metro police brutality towards the backyarders when they were evicted from city-owned land in Tafelsig. Charges of brutality have also been laid against Metro Police after a mother of three sustained a broken ankle and a pregnant woman was allegedly thrown to the ground during a scuffle between Metro Police and backyarders on June 3 when the Anti-Land Invasion Unit prevented the backyarders from occupying land on the edge of the disputed Tafelsig field. — Fadela Slamdien