CAPE Town Metro police yesterday clashed with angry backyard tenants who had invaded a piece of land on Sunday night.

About 500 people staked their claim to an empty piece of land in Happy Valley, 32km from the city centre, and built one shack that police demolished.

A spokesperson for the Happy Valley backyard tenants told Sowetan that about 945 people had grown tired of waiting for houses, and decided to take over the land.

The city has set up serviced sites in the area for people from flood-hit townships. But some communities are resisting the move to Happy Valley, saying it is far from town and that the nearest train station is more than an hour's walk away.

The angry tenants yesterday said they did not understand why the city was giving land to people who refused to live there.

"We live in Happy Valley already. The city doesn't want to give us plots, yet we have been on the waiting list for 20 years," said Maryanne Bulana, 35.

Bulana said she and her husband paid R600 a month for a tiny room in the backyard of someone's house.

"We have two kids. We are not allowed to use the toilet. The kids must go to the bushes or use a bucket," Bulana said.

Theona Kesile, 55, blamed the previous ward councillor, Pieter van Dalen of the DA, who is now a member of parliament.

"Van Dalen said he would build us houses but has brought people who don't even want to be here," Kesile said.

Van Dalen referred Sowetan to the new ward councillor, his father Bert.

Bert said that some Happy Valley backyarders would get houses in September.

"There are 1460 houses to be put up from September. There is a list of people from Happy Valley. Those who have been on the housing list the longest will be helped first," he said.

City of Cape Town spokesperson Kylie Hatton confirmed that the anti-land invasion unit had removed the pegs put up by the tenants to demarcate the plots they wanted to occupy.