Police fire rubber bullets and German couple pelted with stones in new flare-up
Protests over the eviction of families who illegally occupied land in Motherwell and Wells Estate flared up again yesterday as angry residents clashed with the police and attempted to set a car alight.
It was the second day of violence this week after five trucks were torched and a car transporting two German tourists was pelted with stones on Monday.
The backlash was sparked by the forced removal of hundreds of residents who had illegally occupied land.
On Monday, about 300 frames were demolished in NU29 after a sheriff of the court implemented a court order for them to be removed.
Yesterday, a group of about 30 residents watched as the remaining structures were torn down under police guard, but they were adamant that they would rebuild once the police had left.
At about 2pm, the residents clashed with the police in Wells Estate, pelting them with stones while the police fired rubber bullets.
They accused the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality of ignoring their attempts to meet the city’s political leaders. One resident whose structure was demolished in NU29, Xolani Sandi, said: “We wanted to meet with our public representatives to find a solution because we are already living here and we have nowhere else to go.
“We were expecting our municipal officials to engage us on why they say we have invaded this piece of land or at least obtain a fresh summons so that we can also approach the court,” Sandi said.
Thembisa Mnama, one of the occupants, said they had told human settlements political head Nqaba Bhanga before they started erecting their shacks.
“We went to the office of our councillor and phoned Nqaba [Bhanga] to tell him that we are building on that piece of land.
“We were hoping he would help us with alternative land where we can build shacks because some of us have been waiting for houses since 1998,”Mnama said.
“Our concern is that some of us were told that we have got houses but the houses have been occupied by other people. “We don’t know if we are on the housing list or not and also when are they building houses for us,” Mnama said.
Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said the situation was tense and that there was another attempt to burn a vehicle yesterday morning.
Beetge said five cars were torched and the German couple, Jochen Gass and Anja Engelman, were caught in the crossfire on their way back from the Addo Elephant Park on Monday night.
Gass was hurt when a stone hit him in the neck. Bhanga said: “I cannot negotiate with the people whose structures are being demolished because it is a court order. I cannot change a court order.”
He said they were working on a review of the housing waiting list to be completed by August and everyone on the list would be notified and the database would be transparent and open for anyone to see.
“I understand that some people are anxious but those building illegal structures are occupying land earmarked for houses.