RANSACKED: Shop owner Ahmed Husain. CREDIT: Ayanda Ndamane

Land invaders in Mbekweni have turned on Somali shopkeepers by looting and burning their shops to the ground in retaliation for getting evicted.

More than 3000 backyarders illegally invaded a piece of land in Paarl on Friday.

Then chaos broke out on Sunday night after the Drakenstein Municipality obtained a court order to evict the squatters.

A lapa at the Mbekweni Pool was burnt down and the security office at the Thusong Centre was damaged.

A firefighter was attacked when a brick was thrown in his face when he responded to an incident at the pool.

On Monday night hundreds of protesters took to the streets and looted several Somali shops and vandalised vehicles.

Shopkeeper, Ahmed Husain Omar, 28, says “50 men” stormed his shop, stealing half of his stock.

“There was so many of them we could do nothing but hide,” the traumatised man says.

“I’ve only been here for three months, I don’t know what to do because my other brothers were injured after they were thrown with stones and one was burnt.”

At least three other shops were looted and petrol-bombed.

Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk says: “Cases of public violence are being investigated and two

suspects were arrested in possession of looted items.”

Chairperson for the Backyard Dwellers Committee, Quincy Bonga says gatvol people invaded the land after “11 years of empty promises” made by the local municipality.

“Promises were made but ignored and the people were getting tired, so on Friday they took the land. We warned them two months ago but they didn’t listen and ignored us. The land was given to us by the previous [ANC] administrators.”

Drakenstein’s Mayor, Conrad Poole, says the invaded land has been earmarked for a possible mixed housing development.

“There has been no promises made to the community by the Municipality regardless of the fact that they assume the previous ANC dispensation has promised them that erf 557 would be earmarked for housing and alluded to discussion with the previous mayor,” he says.

Poole says they met the group on Monday, but the meeting ended without any resolution when they insisted the land be handed over to them.