Evicted Midrand shack dwellers fight on

By Everson Luhanga

In freezing weather, hundreds of residents who were evicted from land they occupied illegally in Midrand’s Glen Austin, are living like sardines.

Across the road, opposite from where they initially occupied the land, they have erected three tents. The victims of shack farmers who sold land they did not own, the residents thought they had bought their sites legally.

Now men, women and their children, some as young as one year old, have put beds on rough, rocky and dusty ground where they sleep in an open tent.

With no sense of privacy, they are all overcrowded in the tents they were lent by churches.

Community leader Zakhele Ntuli said they have been squatting outside the site for almost two weeks now.

Ntuli said he is disappointed at the government that has kicked them out of the place they called home. “We have been staying here for over a year. Most people joined last year and erected their shacks. This was their only home. But the police and private security destroyed everything for them.

He said last week, police came at night and found some residents sleeping in their shacks. “They arrested 14 people who were found sleeping and took them to police cells. Only one of the 14 arrested people has managed to pay for his bail while the rest are languishing inside. 

“The rest are still in custody as they don’t have money to pay for their bail because they are not working,” said Ntuli.

A pensioner, Mumzi Masina, 64, is one of the many women who are staying in that tent. She told Scrolla.Africa that she had been staying in Tembisa’s Hospital View with her makoti (daughter-in-law) before moving to the Midrand site last October. “I cannot afford to pay rent. The shack I erected here was the only home for me.”

Orchard Maleka said he had lost everything he had when the Johannesburg metro police and the Red Ants destroyed their shacks. “I don’t know whether I will be able to vote next week as my ID book was lost during the evictions.”

He said people live on handouts as most of them don’t work.

They cook on open fires.

Some warm themselves by burning tyres while others make fire from dry wood they fetch from nearby bushes.

Scrolla.Africa first broke the story of the shack farmers at the site which was followed by a raid by the City of Johannesburg and Red Ants who destroyed over 5,000 structures.

In the process of evicting the residents, some who were resisting moving out were shot at with rubber bullets. Others claimed that their belongings got stolen.

These residents are victims of shack farmers who have sold them pieces of land and extorted money from them as a protection fee against possible evictions. But when the authorities came to evict them, the men who had taken the money from these residents were nowhere to be found.

Pictured above: The collage shows the dismal living conditions of families evicted from their shacks in Midrand.

Source: Everson Luhanga 


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