MORE than 60 shacks at an informal settlement at NkowaNkowa outside Tzaneen were demolished by the Greater Tzaneen Municipality yesterday, leaving more than 300 people homeless.
The municipality had obtained a court interdict ordering the squatters to leave the area, but they allegedly ignored it.
According to the municipality's head of the housing unit, Handswell Phakula, the eviction was carried out after the squatters had failed to comply with the 15-day period they were given to vacate the land in terms of the Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.
The eviction followed a court ruling granted on December 2 last year.
Phakula said the squatters were given until February 27 to vacate the land, but had ignored the order.
He said the court had also ruled that if the squatters refused to leave the area, they should be forcibly removed from the land.
Phakula said the land had been earmarked for the establishment of a park for the area.
The eviction was carried out by municipal officials, who used a bulldozer to destroy the shacks. There was also a strong police presence.
Some of the squatters who were home at the timemanaged to salvage their belongings from the shacks before they were demolished.
Phakula said that among the destroyed shelters were six brick houses.
"We need justice. We are not going to let people do as they wish to block proper development, which the municipality would like to bring to the people in the area," he said.
Peter Mashele, one of the people whose shack was demolished, has called on the municipality to provide them with alternative shelter.
He said it was painful that the municipality had destroyed their properties in their absence.
"All we want is shelter as we cannot sleep in the open," Mashele said.