Sanral 'had no choice' in Nomzamo evictions

Sanral’s Shaun Hornby says over 200 shacks were erected in the area in 3 months.

Hundreds of informal settlers in Nomzamo were forcibly removed from the area at the beginning of June. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says it had no choice but to remove hundreds of people off its land as shacks were being erected at 'lightning speed'.

Sanral representatives testified on Tuesday at the Nomzamo Commission of Inquiry.

The inquiry was established by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu after informal settlers were forcefully removed from the land at the beginning of June.

Sanral had obtained a High Court interdict for the removal of the residents as they were squatting on the land illegally.

The evictions took place in the middle of a cold front in the Western Cape and triggered a public outcry.

The agency's Shaun Hornby said over 200 structures were erected in the space of three months.

Sanral says after the Nomzamo community was first evicted, there were an estimated nine shacks left on the property.

Hornby said the agency then approached the courts and employed 50 security guards to prevent further land invasions.

The company said the land was earmarked for an extension of the N2 Highway.

He added that Sanral was willing to buy alternative land for the community.

Hornby said the agency and the City of Cape Town were in agreement to purchase land were the Nomzamo community were going to be moved.

He said the municipality wanted the land developed but insisted it did not want the N2 Highway to be tolled.

Hornby said the plan to relocate the informal settlers then stalled.

Earlier on Tuesday, the commission heard that detailed weather report had been made available to authorities prior to their decision to start the evictions.

Johan Burger, the sheriff of the court in Strand, told the inquiry officials decided to go ahead with the removals as no rain was forecast at the time.

He also claimed he was told by police that if the informal settlers were removed before the 7 May elections, there would've been instability.