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CoCT officials grilled in Parly over SAPS destroying shacks in Hangberg

The action took place as a cold front swept over the peninsula and sparked violent clashes with police on Thursday.

FILE: Police regroup behind a building before using rubber bullets to disperse angry protesters in Hangberg. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - City of Cape Town (CoCT) officials have been grilled by Parliament over police action to destroy shacks in Hangberg, Hout Bay.

The action took place as a cold front swept over the Peninsula and sparked violent clashes with police on Thursday.

The city said it was removing illegal, unoccupied structures in an operation led by South African Police Service (SAPS) and supported by metro police.

But this did not go down well with members of Parliament’s oversight committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs during a virtual meeting on Thursday night.

The meeting was a follow-up opportunity for the City of Cape Town to further spell out its plans to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and provide water to informal settlements.

But MPs’ questions mostly centred on what they called the eviction of otherwise homeless people in the midst of the Cape winter and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Economic Freedom Fighters’ Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said: “Those people who were evicted in Hout Bay today (Thursday) are the black people - there are women, there are children there, and this is not the first time (there have been evictions).”

Cape Town’s Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson denied the city was in breach of the lockdown regulations, which prohibit evictions. He told the committee that members of the Hangberg community in Hout Bay had asked for action to be taken and insisted the structures were not occupied.

“We have not evicted people who were in houses before the shutdown started - but what we have seen in this city have been very politically motivated invasions of land, people who have attempted to use this period of shutdown as a way to illegally invade land, to set up structures and to use this as an opportunity to achieve their political objectives. Well, we’re not going to allow that.”

MORE EVICTIONS

At the same time, the Langeberg Municipality has been slammed and labelled inhumane after authorities demolished shacks in the Robertson area.

Three civil society groups have lashed authorities saying the evictions were illegal during the lockdown.

On one of the coldest nights of the year so far, a number of families were left out in the rain after their structures were demolished.

John Roelsse from the Mawubuye Land Rights Forum said no warning was given before authorities moved in.

“We don’t have shacks to live in now. These people don’t even listen to the command of the president about not evicting people.”

He claims the evictions were violent, leading to clashes.

One man who is now out on the streets, said he had been living on that piece of land for three years.

EWN has made numerous unsuccessful attempts to get comment from the municipality.

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