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Nomzamo: Transport Dept slams Sanral

The Transport Dept has expressed disappointment after Sanral went ahead with evictions in Nomzamo.

Residents of an informal settlement in Strand have been forcibly removed from their homes in the Lwandle informal settlement. Picture: EWN/Lauren Isaacs

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Transport says it's disappointed with the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) for going ahead with evictions in Nomzamo near Strand.

Hundreds of informal settlers were left destitute on Monday, after they were forcibly removed from a piece of privately-owned land.

Children in Nomzamo are being given food as police continue their operation to evict hundreds of families in the area.

Some shacks were broken down and others burned, as community members and police clashed over the evictions, which started on Monday while some residents were still at work and their children at school.

A shack caught fire as police continued with the mass evictions on Tuesday.

A woman weeps after her shack was destroyed by fire as police carried out mass evictions in Nomzamo.

It says the illegal squatters were timeously informed they needed to vacate the land.

Sanral will use the land for a project along the N2 highway.

A woman sits with her child inside a community hall where they have been staying being evicted by police in Nomzamo.

The Transport Department says it has raised its concerns with Sanral.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters also visited Nomzamo residents on Tuesday.

The department's Tiyani Rikhotso says, "We are happy that we were able to meet with members of the community on Tuesday. They were able to understand where we're coming from."

Tensions broke in the area as residents fought to avoid eviction.

Rikhotso says, "We are concerned about the welfare of those people. It's unfortunate and regrettable and we sincerely apologise to them."

At the same time Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille says the evictions are regrettable given the severe weather.

"It's regretful the evictions are during winter and that Sanral waited until now to actually carry out the court order. But there is a court eviction order for Sanral and we will be talking to them about how to find an amicable solution."

Meanwhile, Sanral's Vusi Mona says the agency is being unfairly blamed.

"People are pointing fingers at us. The mandate that we have, according to the Sanral Act, is to plan design, build and maintain roads. That's the mandate that we have. Anything outside of that is not the mandate of Sanral."

The road agency has however shifted the blame to the City of Cape Town turning the situation into a blame game.

Watch: Cape evictions leave hundreds homeless

SISULU TO INVESTIGATE EVICTION

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said she'll set up an inquiry to investigate the procedures and steps that led to the evictions.

Residents of the Nomzamo informal settlement are being forced from their homes because the land is owned by Sanral.

The agency was granted a High Court order to evict hundreds of informal settlers.

Sisulu and her deputy Zou Kota-Fredericks said both the City of Cape Town and Sanral could have handled the dispute and the evictions differently.

They argued if the two parties couldn't find a solution, they should have elevated the dispute to the provincial and national governments.

Sisulu said she will establish an enquiry to investigate all the processes and procedures that were followed by all those involved in the dispute.

She added thta while government doesn't condone the illegal occupation of land, she's worried about the inhumane way in which women and children are being taken out of their homes during winter.

COMMUNITY RELIEF

A number of local non-government organisations (NGOs) have rallied behind informal settlers in Nomzamo.

Organisations are collecting food, blankets and clothing, along with other necessities.

At least three community halls in Strand have also been made available to accommodate the evicted locals over the next few days.

Michel Hansrod from the Methodist Church of South Africa has described the situation in Nomzamo as a humanitarian disaster.

"We have come to see how we can be of assistance to the women and children, particularly in this kind of weather."

GLARING ERRORS WITH COURT INTERDICT

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos says there are glaring errors with the court interdict obtained by Sanral.

The University of the Western Cape law professor believes the High Court interdict should not have been granted.

"It's against the Constitution which says you have to get a court order that takes into account all living circumstances before you actually order an eviction."

De Vos says while the interdict allows for the eviction of Nomzamo residents, it may not have been correctly granted.

He says it has not yet been determined if the matter should be appealed or even if it will stand up in court against the Constitution.