Police used live ammunition against unarmed shackdwellers who fiercely resisted eviction in Philippi East today. It was the most violent day of clashes between police, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement and shackdwellers since forcible evictions started off Symphony Way, in response to a land invasion, two weeks ago. At least one person was shot with live ammunition from, according to eyewitnesses, a police service pistol.
Daneel Knoetze, GroundUp
GroundUp tracked the victim, 31-year-old Patrick Sobutyu, to Delft Day Hospital. He was in the trauma unit, seated in a wheelchair, and awaiting transfer to Tygerberg Hospital. He had been shot in both legs. The paramedic who treated Sobutyu's wounds confirmed to GroundUp that they were from a bullet.
Daneel Knoetze, GroundUp
In yet another crackdown on shackdwellers in Philippi East’s “Marikana” settlement, dozens of shacks were demolished by the City of Cape Town's Anti-Land Invasion Unit on 11 August. Police providing back-up and support, humiliated, assaulted and jeered at residents as they were evicted.
As one woman wept while the building material of her demolished shack was carried away, police gathered around to taunt and mock her.
Evictions: South Africa’s bitter, year-round trauma
Every year, when the temperature dips toward zero, there is a stream of stories in the national media about evictions. The stories emphasise the brutality of evictions – and what Colin Bundy, many years ago, described as the “trauma, frustration, grief, dull dragging apathy and surrender of the will to live” that follow them. And the winter weather helps us imagine the depth of that trauma, and the experience of sleeping on the streets in the frigid night air. But the reality is that evictions and their associated traumas are a year-round feature of South African society.
It isn’t supposed to be this way. Our “never again” Constitution, as the Chief Justice has called it, requires that evictions take place only with the permission of the court – and only where the court has decided that it would be fair, just and equitable to do so, all things considered. An eviction is only fair, in the eyes of our courts, if an evicted person has somewhere else to go – some shelter either provided through their own efforts, or through state support.
A Ride to Nowhere
The struggle at the relatively new Marikana shack settlement in Philippi, Cape Town, has been put on hold for the past few months. The court battle between the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) acting for the community and the legal counsel representing the City of Cape Town has led to an uncomfortable purgatory for those whose homes were illegally demolished by the city in January. Other Marikana residents were not evicted and remain on the land.
The delays clearly serve the city’s interests, yet they have dire consequences for those affected by the anti-land invasion unit’s demolitions.