Nomzamo evictions 'strategically timed'

The inquiry heard that if informal settlers were removed before elections, there would've been instability.

FILE: Informal settlers in Nomzamo were forcefully removed from Sanral-owned land early in June. Picture: Carmel Loggenberg/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - A detailed weather report was made available to authorities prior to a decision to evict hundreds of Nomzamo residents last month, the Nomzamo Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

Johan Burger, the sheriff of the court in Strand, earlier testified that a detailed weather forecast was downloaded from the internet.

Burger told the inquiry officials decided to go ahead with the removals as no rain was forecast at the time.

The inquiry was launched by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu after informal settlers were forcefully removed from land owned by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) early in 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.

Burger said the evictions would have been carried out sooner, but he was told by authorities they can only happen after the 7 May elections.

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

He also said City of Cape Town officials knew about the evictions before they were carried out.

The sheriff claimed three city officials were present at several meetings which took place before the evictions.

While the city denies that it had prior knowledge about the removals, Burger's testimony echoes Nomzamo ward councillor Mbuyiseni Matha's claim that city officials were in the know.

Yesterday, Matha blamed the city for the evictions.

He said government officials previously visited the area several times making housing promises.

Matha said people grew tired of waiting for the houses and decided to invade the land illegally and against his wishes.