10 July 2018

South Africa: 'We Are Not Going Anywhere, We Are Tired of Waiting' - Ennerdale Illegal Land Occupiers

Land invaders in Ennerdale, in the south of Johannesburg, were adamant on Tuesday morning that they would not be forcibly removed by the government or the police.

Farouk Jardine, who oversaw the illegal land invasion, said the group had occupied the land after government failed to deliver on its promise to build them houses.

"We are tired of waiting and waiting and being put on hold. That is why we have decided to take the land for ourselves."

He said they were addressed by then member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for housing Mzobanzi Ntuli in May and were promised houses.

Jardine also called leaders in government "gangsters".

"They've got the power and guns and then they come and remove us with strong arms (sic) because we don't have guns. All they are telling us is that we also have to arm ourselves."

He said they would continue to fight for the land, adding that they would no "longer be pushed around".

By Tuesday morning, the group had sectioned off pieces on a large tract of land; each piece was marked with red-and-white barrier tape.

Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers arrived in the area with trucks and broke down several makeshift shacks.

Officers loaded all the rubble onto the trucks and left the area.

This left several of those who'd built the shacks, some of whom said they had spent more than R2 000 buying the material for the homes, frustrated.

Speaking to News24, newly appointed MMC for housing Meshack van Wyk said the City of Johannesburg condemned illegal land invasion in the "strongest" terms.

Van Wyk said the City had received a "threat" of illegal land invasions last week Friday, but said the land was only occupied on Sunday.

"People started invading the land after they discovered that specific land was earmarked for a project - what we call an Ennerdale extension programme. We cannot condone land invasion, it is illegal."

He said many of the illegal land occupiers were not from Ennerdale, adding that several bakkies and trucks were spotted in the area transporting equipment.

"There is discussion and there is a committee that has been established in local and provincial government to look at all the empty spaces in the south (of Johannesburg). I understand people are impatient, but they must bear with us."

'Are we not supposed to have houses?'

Community member Marge Cass said they would not be deterred by the officers.

"What is supposed to happen to the residents of Ennerdale? Are we not supposed to have houses?"

Cass has also blamed the ward councillor Margie Endreinie for inciting violence in the area.

"She (Endreinie) sent these officers here to break down our shacks. We would love for the councillor to also treat us fairly, just like everyone else [who] voted for her. What makes us different from all the surrounding areas that sprung up?"

She said the people of the area were tired of being victimised.

"For how long must the people of Ennerdale sit in the back seat and watch other people progress? Should we always do the wrong things for them to listen to us?"

Later on Tuesday, residents moved from the Ennerdale Civic Centre, where they demanded to be addressed by Endreinie, to Extension 5, where she apparently lives.

Some were heard shouting: "She doesn't want to listen, so today we will burn down her house."

When the group arrived near her house, they were met with rubber bullets from the guns of JMPD officers.

The crowd dispersed and fled into nearby houses.

Source: News24

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