Diepsloot evictions spark violence

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

Evictions at an informal settlement in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, ground to a halt yesterday after residents refused to leave their homes.

About 600 disgruntled residentsin Extension 1 barricaded roads with mobile toilets, rubbish bins and rocks in protest against the planned relocation of 22 families in the area.

Police used rubber bullets to disperse the angry crowd, who stoned police vehicles.

Two people were injured and 12 were arrested for public violence, police said.

"The council cannot expect us to leave our homes without telling us where we are going.

"They should have given us enough notice to prepare ourselves," said David Maluleke, one of the protesters.

He said the residents had only been warned on Wednesday about the relocation.

"We were told we would be moving either to Extension 2 or 12. We do not understand why, because both these areas are not that different from Extension 1," he said.

Joyce Tshwale, a mother of two, said the residents had collectively decided not to move during a meeting held yesterday morning.

"If they were moving us to proper houses with water, electricity and sanitation we would happily relocate," she said.

But ANC chairman in the area Rogers Makhubela said the move was necessary.

"Only 22 families have to be relocated to make way for the road and water piping that are under construction.

"Their shacks are too close to the road and we cannot risk their lives," he said.

Police spokesman Inspector Paul Ramaloko said the situation was calm and the protesters had dispersed.

"The residents dispersed after police fired rubber bullets at them. This was after they began stoning police officers on patrol," he said.

Ramaloko said police were on guard in the area in case the protests broke out again.