Lakeside Informal Settlement Demolitions

It was on the 16th of April when I headed to Lenasia to meet a supplier of masks so I could purchase the protective items for my media team. Along the way I gave some lady a lift as the taxis are not allowed to travel during the day up till 4pm in adherence to the lockdown regulations. She told me that she was worried about her minor child whom she left under the care of her neighbour at the informal settlement where she lived. The road to Lawley was closed by the Metro police and as we took an alternative route via Lenasia South we noticed a crowd of people at the railway line in what seemed like they were witnessing a scene from a distance across the lake.

Shiny shack structures have been piling up the hill landscape since late 2019. As with many areas around Gauteng the homeless desperately seek land to settle on. With all types of community leaders promising to safeguard their plight often with fees involved. The hill land occupants at the lakeside informal settlement south of Johannesburg, woke up to a hard reality as the Red Ants demolition agents escorted by the SAPS and JMPD knocked off their structures. As the smoke filled the air as the grader demolished already built rooms whilst wooden material got burned and corrugated sheets piled into the truck.

The lady seemed shocked as she resided at the same place. A passer-by informed me that they only remove the shacks of those who don’t stay at their shacks, but just want a piece of land. The lady tells me that they bought the stands for as little as R1500 towards the end of 2019. She tells that they were assured because the community leaders took them to a legal representative in town, where allegedly at court they were shown papers that the land was earmarked for occupation. But when I asked her if she had a stand number, she couldn’t tell. “We were issued receipts for payment and an affidavit that confirms our occupation.” Her lament was that those who occupied illegally without payment were to blame for the demolitions. The Gauteng Human Settlements department has since deemed the occupation illegal.

Jerry Sokhupe Soweto Sunrise News

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