Squatters, city to meet in court

UP IN ARMS: Police monitor toyi-toying residents of Marlboro near Alexandra, who barricaded the streets in protest against their eviction and the destruction of their shacks. Photo: Tsheko Kabasia
UP IN ARMS: Police monitor toyi-toying residents of Marlboro near Alexandra, who barricaded the streets in protest against their eviction and the destruction of their shacks. Photo: Tsheko Kabasia

Metro police demolished squatters' structures in what residents say is an illegal eviction.

FAMILIES squatting on a piece of land in Marlboro, an industrial site near Alexandra in Johannesburg, are due to meet the City of Joburg in the Johannesburg High Court today over their eviction.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), representing the squatters, confirmed they had filed for an urgent interdict following renewed clashes between their clients and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department yesterday.

Metro police demolished squatters' structures in what residents say is an illegal eviction.

The two parties have for years been involved in long battles, with the Johannesburg Metro Council trying to evict them from its land.

LHR's Louise du Plessis said in the application they wanted the city to return the families to the land or provide them with alternative accommodation.

Du Plessis said the court ruled last Friday that the families could return to the land after they had been evicted a few weeks ago.

"On Friday we got an order that said people could go back to the land. They had been living in tents somewhere after they had been evicted. The City of Johannesburg says they can return to the land but not put up structures, even temporary structures. We want them to explain what that means," she said.

She said following Friday's temporary ruling the residents had started erecting shacks.

Du Plessis also said they were scheduled to return to court on Wednesday next week to hear the council's explanation and the court ruling thereof.

But the metro police pounced on the residents on Monday night, demolishing their structures again. The residents started a protest at 3am, barricading streets with burning tyres and rocks.

Gerald Mabogwane said he had lived in the area for 13 years and it was the council's responsibility to provide him and the rest of the group with alternative accommodation.

"I live with my wife and two children. We have been fighting with the metro police over this issues since 2005. We do not have a problem moving from here but, in accordance with the law, the council must provide us with alternative accommodation."

Community leader Charles Gininda said they viewed police action as harassment.

"We are fighting with the council but it is the police who come with rubber bullets and teargas. We no longer understand who we are dealing with here," he said.

Council spokesman Gabu Tugwana said he was not aware of today's court date. - xabav@sowetan.co.za

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