After a rampant clash with the police for four days, alleged squatters from the Marikana informal settlement in Philippi, Cape Town are certain that they will fight for that piece of land until the bitter end.
The informal settlement which is named after the August 2012 Marikana Strike, came into being in August 2013. Since then, there has been back and forth clashes between the land occupants and the City of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU).
When I went to that area this past weekend, it was evident that the residents were desperate for a place to settle. Some were making space by taking bushes down. Nosakhele Gaji (58) from Phillippi said that she was excited because her daughter would now be able to have her own place. “As much as it’s dangerous because law enforcement comes and destroys these shacks, I am more than happy because we share a very tiny space at home with Thandi’s [her daughter] children also in the picture,” she said.
Thandi Gaji (35), who was building her own shack said that she had no choice but to go back to Marikana after the demolitions. “I had a shack here before and it was destroyed by law enforcement with some of my belongings but I decided to come again and build another one,” she said. The mother of three children said she currently shares a very small space with her two siblings, their children, and their mother so the place was overcrowded.
In an occasion which was not new to the residents of Marikana, dozens of shacks were destroyed by the ALIU from Monday (11th of August) last week. The debacle between the disgruntled residents and the ALIU went on for four days. The feud resulted in a battle between law enforcement officers and the residents last week. On Wednesday the 13th, the intersection to Khayelitsha was totally closed as the angry Marikana residents burnt tyres and threw stones at vehicles on the road.
Last Monday was not the first time that people were evicted from the Marikana area. On the 7th and 8th of January this year, the ALIU destroyed about 40 shacks from the settlement following reports of people that kept on invading an unoccupied piece of land in Phillipi. The residents then proceeded to open a case against the City and law enforcement. The Western Cape High Court thereafter ruled that the evictions were unconstitutional because there was no eviction order or notice from the magistrate entertaining such action by the ALIU.
The Judge who is in charge of the case ruled out the judgement after comparing the evictions to those which took place under the apartheid regime. He ruled that the City should replace the demolished shacks. The City also defended its action by saying that they only demolished shacks which were unoccupied.
Mzolisi Sonamzi, who is an informal community leader, says that they are willing to fight and win the land battle. “We had won this land in the High Court but now we appealed for those squatters that had their shacks demolished, and we are not going anywhere,” said Sonamzi. He also claimed they were staying on the land in agreement with the land owner whom he pointed to be staying at an unidentified brick flat within the shacks.
The City will be in court on the 28 of August, where oral statements will be taken from the residents of Marikana.
All images by Ndimphiwe Gilili
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