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Squatters' woes far from over

By Sowetan | 2010-08-11 06:33:00.0

THE residents of an informal settlement behind the Woodlands Boulevard shopping centre in Pretoria East are using water from a tap in the nearby cemetery for cooking and drinking.

The cemetery land also serves as a football ground for the squatters. A slimy nearby pond, which oozes green fungi sludge is used by the squatters as a laundry.

"Our biggest fear is the rainy season because the tents will be flooded," Michael Furanji said as he washed his clothes in the pond.

The camp is littered with the burnt-out remains of what used to be the squatters' belongings.

Lawyers for Human Rights said the municipality's action was nothing less than an unlawful attack on poor people by the municipality and surrounding up-market areas' resident associations.

The organisation's director, Jacob van Gardeneren, said: "The surrounding neighbourhoods used typical excuses to justify their involvement in these evictions - such as that the informal settlement hosts criminals.

"The reality is that this informal settlement hosts their gardeners, domestic workers and construction workers, who are often paid so poorly they cannot afford to travel home every day."

The municipality's director of communications, Console Tleane, said the land occupied by the squatters had been earmarked as an extension to the adjacent Pretoria East cemetery.

Tleane said the human settlement department was considering all options available to deal with the situation.