Cosatu rallies behind 'squatters'
COSATU Western Cape shopstewards have rallied behind the community of Hangberg in Hout Bay, whose shacks were demolished by police on Tuesday.
Hundreds of people have been living on the prime real estate overlooking the ocean, some for 22 years. But the city now says their shacks are illegal.
Yesterday, charges were dropped against most of the 58 Hangberg residents who were arrested for "public violence" on Tuesday.
At a packed Cape Town City Hall last night, Hout Bay community activist Fred Martin told about 500 shopstewards from different Cosatu unions that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille did not want to meet them to explain why a planned housing project had been delayed for more than three years.
"She came as a dictator and said what she wanted to say," said Martin, who added that the shack-dwellers had lost thousands of rands when their homes were torn down.
Martin said: "I spent at least R45000 on my place, and they tore it down."
He said Zille was suddenly spreading rumours, after police had already destroyed the shacks, that Hangberg residents needed to be removed because they were selling drugs.
Shopstewards voted to support the community.
Cosatu Western Cape provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the national government must "send in the army to protect innocent civilians".
"We can see there is enough land in Hout Bay. Every day new mansions go up but when there is a request by the poor, there is suddenly no land," said Ehrenreich.
Cosatu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi had been billed as a speaker but instead stayed in Durban to lead Cosatu delegation at the ANC national general council meeting.