'Evictees invaded land,' says City of Ekurhuleni
The City of Ekurhuleni has defended its decision to demolish shacks in Duduza informal settlement in Tembisa.MMC for community safety Phaladi Mmoko said the families whose shacks were demolished last week had not lived on the land for a long time."I can tell you that we are not removing anyone who would have been in the area for a long time. These people attempt doing land invasion on a daily basis. If we were going to be found sleeping on our job we were going to be dealing with thousands."If a person occupies government land illegally, we are duty-bound to go and remove that person . Our interest is to safeguard the property of the municipality. To each and every property, there are plans for social development. Some of the land may not be for human settlement but could be utilised for something else," Mmoko said.About 34 families were left in the cold last week when Ekurhuleni Metro Police demolished their shacks in Duduza. Residents said they occupied the land on March 14 before the lockdown began. The officers first came on Wednesday and demolished the shacks built next to the river.Some residents were able to rebuild the shacks but the officers returned and demolished the shacks, some of the structures even went up in flames. Residents accused the officers of setting their shacks alight.Mmoko rejected the accusations and urged residents to provide proof. "When we demolish, we do not burn [the shacks]. If I can be given proof where shacks were burned, I can go back and investigate. People have cellphones. They take videos all the time. Show me the videos of our police burning the shacks. These people are taking advantage of the lockdown regulations . There is a need for us to prevent land invasion and that is what we are doing. We will still continue doing this on a daily basis." The City of Ekurhuleni has three dedicated units deployed in each of its regions to fight land invasion. Removing people who occupy land during lockdown have caused problems for a number of municipalities over the past months. Last month, a video showing officials from the City of Cape Town evicting a man in Khayelitsha while he was naked in his shack shocked the country. According to lockdown regulations, no one is allowed to evict a person who has already been living in a property before the lockdown.However, municipalities are allowed to prevent land invasion during the lockdown.