Cape Argus: In Macassar, June 16 is no cause to celebrate

The city can not provide proof of its plans to build on the site. Moreover the City’s interdict (which prevents further occupation and the erection of new structures) most certainly did not give legal sanction to the demolitions which were illegal (and in fact criminal) as well as in contempt of court.

In Macassar, June 16 is no cause to celebrate
Evictees rally to ‘decelebrate’ Youth Day

June 17, 2009 Edition 1

Fouzia van der Fort

YOUTH Day was no cause for celebration for the people evicted from Macassar Village land earmarked for formal housing, and their fellow shack dwellers turned out to support them in their protest to “de-celebrate” June 16.

Representatives from different informal settlements across the Peninsula, along with members of the shack dwellers group Abahlali baseMjondolo, toyi-toyied in protest at the site yesterday.

“We want to pledge our solidarity to expose the appalling conditions our comrades are living in,” said Mzonke Poni, chairman of the group.

He said the 1976 struggle was fought by ordinary people, and it was the ordinary people who should be mobilising now to “take back our history of struggle from the politicians”.

“We want to empower the occupants of Macassar.

“They are not alone. There are people supporting them,” Poni declared.

About 50 residents have been sleeping either in makeshift shacks or without any shelter at all since they were evicted from the land, which is currently the subject of an environmental impact study.

The city has plans to build 2 500 houses there.

Poni claimed the residents were fighting “for a small thing – a piece of land – so that they may be recognised as people to whom the government will provide a minimal level of service of water, roads and electricity”.

Following previous clashes with police in the area, Poni was expected to appear in the Somerset West Magistrate’s Court on a charge of public violence today.

For the past month the group has been living on the side of the road, alongside the open land.

Yesterday, their mattresses and other belonging were lying covered in black plastic beside an open fire which they used for cooking and warmth.

The homes they built on the land were demolished by law-enforcement officials from the City of Cape Town, in accordance with a court order preventing occupation of the land.

For Theliwe Macekiswana, 33, who has 10-month-old baby Iphendule, the fight for freedom is meaningless when she has nowhere to live.

Unemployed since March, she said she had nothing to celebrate.

The municipality had evicted her, taking her materials “instead of protecting us on this land”.

“They took my whole hokkie,” she said.

Joseph Jantjies, 52, who has been living in a Macassar backyard for 20 years since his arrival here from the Eastern Cape, said they had resorted to protests to force the government to take notice of them.

“These people have nothing to celebrate.

“They can’t be satisfied with living like this,” he said.

Several Metro Police officers stood monitoring the protest throughout the morning yesterday.