Category Archives: Mpume Madlala

Mercury: Cato Crest shacks demolished

Mpume Madlala

Durban – Several families were left homeless on Wednesday when their shacks in Cato Crest were demolished by the eThekwini Municipality’s land invasion unit. Eleven shacks, which had been up for about a week, were razed.

Martha Chofe, 33, said she was moved out of her empty shack at gunpoint while she was preparing to settle in. Chofe said the shack was new and she had paid R550 for it to be built, excluding the material. “I have two children of 7 and 7 months. I just wanted to give them a better home because we were squashed where we were renting,” she said.

Chofe said she had begged the unit not to destroy her shack, but they would not listen. “They told me they were going to demolish and that I can rebuild it tomorrow,” she said, with tears rolling down her face.

Chofe said she had also been informed by the unit that they were demolishing shacks that had no furniture.

“They did not care that I was there and, because I was scared of their guns, I could not resist but had to let them destroy my home,” she said.

Ndabo Mzimela, the secretary for Abahlali Basemjondolo, a shack dwellers’ movement, said that because of previous evictions, many of their members had been displaced and were not given alternative homes.

“If the municipality does not give people places to live, where must they go?” he said.

Although they were not promoting land invasions, Mzimela said that unless the municipality gave people houses, invasions would not stop. “People are desperate. Maybe to municipal officials, these are just shacks, but to us they are homes. Shelter is the right of every citizen,” he said.

DA councillor Halalisani Ndlovu said what was happening at the informal settlement was “inhuman” and that residents were being victimised. “Where are these families supposed to go if they are evicted in such a manner? We are going to request the eviction order to see if it is legal,” he said.

Municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said that the municipality had a zero-tolerance attitude when it came to land invaders because they delayed development. “These operations are going to continue throughout the city. People need to be patient because the municipality is working on housing and it cannot happen overnight,” he said.

Daily News: Rights group members freed






The three Abahlali BaseMjondolo members who were arrested during one of the many service delivery protests in eThekwini, have been released on warning by the Umlazi Magistrate’s Court.

Themba Msomi, Thembeka Sondaba and Fikiswa Mgoduka were among a group of protesters arrested on Friday and charged with public violence.

On Monday eight branches of the shack dwellers movement – including Clare Estate, Isipingo, Mayville, Shallcross, Siyanda and Umlazi – organised road blockades in various areas.

The protests were against evictions, arrests of their members and to demand housing.

Abahlali and Cato Crest residents have been in and out of court trying to prevent the city from tearing down their shacks.

They have applied for a contempt of court order against the city for ignoring previous interdicts restraining it from demolishing shacks.

There was a strong police presence at the court on Wednesday as Abahlali members protested outside the court gates.

The three are expected to return to court on October 23.

The movement’s secretary, Bandile Mdlalose, was released on R5 000 bail on Monday after spending seven days in custody. She is due back in court on October 28.

Meanwhile, support for Abahlali has grown.

The KwaZulu-Natal Church Leaders’ Group denounced the actions of the municipality and its failure in providing “the most basic necessities”.

The chairman of the group and Dean of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Bishop Rubin Philip, said adequate housing was a human- and God-given right.

“The court keeps giving interdicts to protect these people, but local authorities seem to neglect authority and the rules of the court,” he said.

Philip, who was part of the Black Consciousness Movement, said the poor treatment of shackdwellers was deeply disappointing.

“It’s like taking a step back into apartheid. This is not what we fought for. We fought for peace, homes, jobs and for freedom,” he said.

He said that the church had opened its doors in case the movement required legal assistance through the church’s independent organisation, the Church Land Programme.

The group accused the city leadership of short-sightedness and dishonesty in its handling of housing, which it said sacrificed the lives of the poor to feed selfish political ends.

Last month the general council of the Bar of South Africa criticised the municipality for sending its land invasion unit to destroy shacks despite interdicts preventing this.

The city has insisted that it has been acting within the law. Houses were being built, but it took time and a process had to be followed.

Mayor James Nxumalo will brief the media on Thursday on the city’s housing programme and to “clarify issues surrounding the Cato Crest unrest and land invasions”.

Nxumalo said the city would be “clearing the misconceptions regarding the court order and demolition of shacks”.

Note: The City cancelled their press conference at the last minute.

Daily News: Protest leader banned from Cato

It seems that the police, the magistrate and the media can't tell the difference between organising a spontaneous protest, after a police murder, and violence. No person was harmed in this protest, it was not violent. It is incredible that the police, the land invasions unit and the izinkabi can operate freely in Cato Crest when they have killed, shot and illegally evicted people whereas Bandile who protested against a police murder is banned from the area.


Copy of ND Strike1



Independent Newspapers

Police cordon off Bellair Road after a service delivery protest. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane

Durban – A Durban magistrate has described service delivery protests in the Cato Manor area as being “total anarchy”.



In granting bail of R5 000 to Abahlali BaseMjondolo general secretary Bandile Mdlalose, 27, from KwaMakhutha, Magistrate Vanitha Armu ordered that she not be allowed in the Cato Manor area until the finalisation of the trial.

Mdlalose was arrested and faces a charge of public violence. It is alleged that on September 30 Mdlalose unlawfully assembled residents who blocked Dumisani Makhaye Road in KwaMashu with debris and burning tyres.

In an affidavit by investing officer, Constable Godfrey Goss, it is alleged that Mdlalose was the leader of the protest and she showed no respect for peaceful protest.

He said that if she were released on bail she could incite another violent protest.

The court heard that Mdlalose was a second-year student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg.

Her role with Abahlali was on volunteer basis and she is unemployed, her lawyer said.

Prosecutor Blackie Swart called for Mdlalose to report to a police station twice a week in order for police to monitor her movement.

“People need to use our roads without the fear of being intimidated.

“Burning tyres in the road and obstructing traffic is absolutely unacceptable. Protests in the Cato Manor area are becoming more violent by the day.”

Swart told the court that there have been 11 cases of public violence in the past seven months.

The matter returns to court later this month.

On Monday morning a number of service delivery protests were held across the city by eight Abahlali BaseMjondolo branches who organised road blockades using branches and burning tyres, including at Clare Estate, Isipingo, Mayville, Shallcross, Siyanda and Umlazi.

This year three people have been killed in Cato Crest, including a 17-year-old. Two people have been shot and survived and a number of others beaten. Evictions have also seen shack dwellers turn repeatedly to the courts for help.

Spokesman and former Abahlali president, S’bu Zikode, said this morning that the protests were a sign that poor people were tired of being lied to by government.

Zikode said the truth was that people were angry.

“We have always warned that their anger will go in some direction and this is it. People are tired of living in hope that is never fulfilled.”

According to Zikode politicians knew why these protests were happening.

“They are the ones who have been promising people houses, but in the end don’t deliver. It’s time people were told the truth,” he said.

Unless government comes up with a genuine proposal that states when the houses will be built, how many there will be and over what period, people will continue to protest.

Zikode called for the evictions to stop, stating that this was the reason why people were becoming so angry.

The arrest of Bandile Mdlalose, general secretary of movement, last week had also angered shack dwellers.

Metro Police Spokesman Senior Superintendent, Eugene Msomi, said that police had dispersed the crowds who had been burning car tyres and rubbish around the city. “These illegal protests were not big and were not very well supported. However police have remained in the areas to keep a close eye on the situation,” he said.

Durban Solid Waste workers were early today already cleaning up the roads that were affected.

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Daily News: Advocates slam council demolitions

The Municipality is lying. They are evicting the people who went to court and the people that occupied this land are not new arrivals – they are people who have long lived in Cato Crest and were made homeless by illegal evictions.

Advocates slam council demolitions

September 26 2013

Durban – The ongoing demolition of shacks at the Cato Crest informal settlement in Durban, despite several court interdicts preventing it, has raised the concern of South Africa’s advocates’ body.

The General Council of the Bar of South Africa (GCB) has criticised the eThekwini Municipality for sending its Land Invasion Unit to destroy the shacks.

Advocates who are members of the GCB are competitive specialist advocates who are experts in trial, motion court, appellate and opinion advocacy.

Each province has a Bar association that is affiliated to the GCB.

Over the past two weeks, the affected residents had been evicted and left homeless three times, said council chairman, advocate Ishmael Semenya.

At least one shack dweller was wounded in skirmishes with the unit at the weekend.

“The residents have urgently approached the high court on no less than five occasions, claiming that their eviction was unlawful. They have obtained three interim court interdicts, restraining the Durban municipality from evicting them again without a court order, and have subsequently rebuilt their homes,” he said.

Despite this, the Land Invasion Unit had returned to the settlement and once again destroyed homes.

“The General Council of the Bar notes reports that the residents were driven to occupy land at Cato Crest earlier this year after they were excluded from a project intended to provide housing to them and others in a nearby informal settlement.”

Semenya said section 26 of the constitution entrenched the right of access to adequate housing and protection from arbitrary eviction.

“It is a matter of grave concern that, despite their repeated attempts to follow due process of law in enforcing their constitutional rights, the residents, including many women and children, have been left homeless and destitute,” he said.

Constitutional law expert, Professor Pierre de Vos, said the municipality was required to obtain an interdict to demolish the shacks if people were living in them.

“There was a similar situation in Cape Town until the municipality established a law that they had a right to demolish houses,” said De Vos, who is a lecturer at the University of Cape Town.

“The large problem here is that the (eThekwini) municipality is not respecting the law. This appears to be a systemic problem where the municipality does not seem to understand or recognise that there’s a legal framework and they can’t just demolish homes.”

De Vos suggested that the lawyers acting for the Cato Crest residents should try to get a “structural interdict” to prevent the municipality from demolishing any shacks.

The municipality would be required to justify its actions if it persisted in tearing down the shacks, he said.

The municipality’s spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, said the Bar’s concerns were noted but suggested that a meeting be set with the Bar and the city to discuss the issue privately.

“We have respected the court process and have always complied with the court orders. We have never touched the court applicants’ homes,” Mofokeng said, referring to the 30 Cato Crest shack dwellers that had gone to court.

Mofokeng also hinted at the city’s holding a media conference on the issue, adding that it would not stop dealing with land invasions.

“We have done all the available remedies to deal with these land invasions,” he said. “We cannot allow invasions to continue.”

Daily News: 800 homeless after fire

800 homeless after fire

by Mpume Madlala & Lauren Anthony

Their faces grim and strained, shack dwellers picked through the charred rubble of their homes on Sunday after a devastating fire left one dead and about 800 without shelter.

There were reports from residents that three fires had broken out on Saturday night. The first two were controlled but the last one at about 9pm destroyed 258 of the 280 shacks at the Matambo settlement in Red Hill, Durban.

For many, the hope of finding any possessions that may have been spared the ferocious fire, was in vain.

People scrambled to find their belongings but most had been destroyed, said Robin Candy, chairman of the Greenwood Park community police forum.

He said the ruins were still smouldering on Sunday.

“About 90 percent of the shacks were burnt and I think some of the bordering houses might have been damaged,” said Candy, who was called to the scene and witnessed the inferno.

Shack dweller Bheki Sozoyi, 35, said he awoke to a scene of chaos, screams and utter devastation.

Sozoyi said all he saw was raging flames coming from all directions and people running.

“I also decided to run for my life with the rest,” he told the Daily News on Sunday.

“After the fire was put out hours later, I realised that I had not seen my uncle and along with some neighbours went to where his shack was.”

Sozoyi said he was in shock when he saw the charred remains of his uncle Bill’s body on the bed.

“We called the police who were still around and his remains were taken away. I was crushed that I was not able to save him because he was very good to me,” he said.

Sozoyi said that when he went back to his uncle’s shack on Sunday to see if he could salvage any of his belongings, he made yet another gruesome discovery.

“I found his bones which I think were his legs,” he said. “I still cannot believe that he died in such a horrific way. I will never forget this day.”

Sozoyi said he had last seen his uncle, who was about 60 years old, on Saturday afternoon when they had chatted over drinks with a few friends.

“Life is really unfair. Just yesterday (Saturday) he was alive and well and now there is almost nothing left of him,” he said.

They had lived at the settlement for more than 17 years after relocating from the Eastern Cape to find work.

Another resident, Sthembiso Mkekeni, said the events of Saturday night were “very strange” as there were three separate fires at the settlement that night.

“It was about 8pm on Saturday when a shack went up in flames but we managed to put the fire out. Not long after, another shack went up in flames and we put it out. But the fire at 9pm was just too great and there was nothing we could do but run for our lives.”

Mkekeni said most of the residents were unable to save anything from their shacks. He said it appeared that one of the shacks had contained a lot of plastic, which made the fire spread even faster.

“It is so hard for us. We basically spent the rest of the night sitting on the road and wondering what we were going to do. Even now, we still don’t have a plan,” Mkekeni said.

Ward councillor Deochand Ganesh said the fire started just after 8pm at the lower end of the settlement and spread quickly.

“One elderly man was trapped in his shack and was killed. There were other minor injuries but not life threatening,” he said.

“Thirty-nine shacks were saved because they were separated by a road.”

Ganesh said tents were being put up and some people had offered garages at businesses as temporary shelter.

“Sassa (the South African Social Security Agency) has come on board to issue grant cards and food parcels and a food kitchen is being set up.”

He said the homeless should not expect to be given permanent alternative shelter immediately.

“People must be patient with the council because there is a backlog of houses,” he said.

“Distribution can’t be determined by damage to houses because then it encourages people to start their own fires.”

Wilfred Mkhwanazi, spokesman for eThekwini Disaster Management, told the Daily News he was on site trying to verify the number of people displaced and shacks destroyed.

“There are about 258 shacks that were destroyed which we could verify by the numbering. We think about 800 people have been displaced but that’s hard to verify because some say there were 10 in a shack. This hasn’t been confirmed.”

Mkhwanazi said they would erect a tent to house the women and a separate tent for men as well as toilet facilities.

“Sassa is assisting with food parcels and a number of NGOs have been called on to assist, such as the Red Cross.”

He said disaster management would provide soup and blankets.

Last week it was reported that Matambo residents had tried to build shacks on privately owned land nearby.

Ganesh said landowners had removed the shacks and building had since stopped.

“For the sake of peace we decided to put the plan on hold until we get clarity on whether we can build or not,” Mkekeni said.