HOMELESS FIgHT CAPE TOWN CITY

MORE than 200 back-yard residents are caught up in a legal battle with the city of Cape Town for occupying land in Macassar, near Khayelitsha.

MORE than 200 back-yard residents are caught up in a legal battle with the city of Cape Town for occupying land in Macassar, near Khayelitsha.

The group, organised by Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape, said they were tired of paying R500 to rent rooms in back yards so they have built shacks on the vacant land.

Abahlali baseMjondolo scored an early victory against the city when they won a Cape high court interdict preventing the city from demolishing their shacks.

But the city's anti-land invasions unit destroyed the shacks anyway.

Vusi Matikinca, the group's attorney, told Sowetan yesterday: "It is raining and cold there. There are babies sitting in the rain.

"The city acted unlawfully because they did not abide by the Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act. They said the land belonged to us and you have no right to come here.

"The group admits the land does not belong to them but we have a problem with the city's unlawful behaviour," Matikinca said.

But the city's anti-land invasion unit head, Stephen Hayward, said they had the right to evict the residents.

"We did not need a court order," Hayward said. "When someone dispossesses anyone else of his property the owner has the right to take the property back."

He said the city had won the battle by getting its own interdict against Abahlali baseMjondolo yesterday, preventing the group from occupying the land.

Meanwhile, the group's leader, Mzonke Poni, has appeared in court after being arrested on Monday.

Poni laid assault charges against the city after metro cops followed him to the Macassar taxi rank and allegedly hit him over the shoulder and collarbone with handcuffs.

An officer allegedly told him he would be arrested if he did not stop photographing the demolitions.

When Sowetan saw Poni at the Macassar police cells yesterday he was bruised. Police confirmed that he had been treated in hospital for his injuries.

X