Many homeless as cops destroy illegal shacks

Rose Dlamini was breastfeeding her three-week-old baby when she heard a noise outside her shack. The next moment she was bleeding from her left arm.

Dlamini, 25, had been cut by a corrugated iron sheet falling from the upper floor of a double-storey shack in Zandspruit, near Honeydew, west of Johannesburg, during the demolition of illegal dwellings and unsafe shacks on Wednesday.

Police were called to calm down residents who had barricaded Beyers Naude Drive and were asking for their councillor to address them.

Dlamini lived on the ground floor of a 16-room shack, of which each room was rented out for between R200 and R350 a month.

According to the Johannesburg metro police, the shack was unsafe and illegal.

"About 50 metro officers pounced on the settlement at about 9am. The noise was loud and scary as they pulled down corrugated iron sheets from the shacks.

"I grabbed my baby and ran outside, fearing we would be buried under the rubble," Dlamini said, wiping away tears.

Metro police said residents were given 48 hours last week to vacate their shacks. The police said they were looking for a man they called a "shack-lord" who was building and renting out shacks in the area.

Metro police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said: "The suspect did this after people from that settlement were moved to houses at Cosmo City and their shacks were demolished. He then rebuilt illegal dwellings on the same land."

He said only shacks with authentic barcodes were left, because their occupants were waiting for their houses to be built by the council.

The owner of the double-storey shack, Jabulani Vilakazi, who has been making about R4 000 in rentals a month, said he had been living at Zandspruit for about 10 years and denied that any people were moved to houses at Cosmo City.

A Zandspruit councillor, Maureen Scheemann, was booed and insulted when she tried to address residents on Wednesday. They claimed she had promised them houses when she campaigned for election.

This article was originally published on page 10 of The Star on September 28, 2006

Article By: Poloko Tau -