A Lavender Hill man is fighting for his life in hospital after being hit in the head with a rubber bullet as land invaders and Law Enforcement officers clashed on Saturday.
The heartbroken uncle of Bradley Lamb, 20, says he rushed his nephew to hospital after he collapsed during the incident during which City of Cape Town officials broke down shacks that were illegally erected near the Rondevlei Nature Reserve.
Uncle Edgar Hendricks, 52, says as the eviction got underway, Bradley was taking water to someone when he was shot.
“He was not one of the invaders, but was taking water to one of the people there,” he says.
“They called me because he was struck in the head and collapsed on the ground.
“When I got there, he was having a fit and I picked him up and rushed him to hospital. He is now in Groote Schuur Hospital with a cracked skull and is fighting for his life.”
Community worker Howard Soetwater says the invasion started last Thursday and was led by a group of backyard dwellers.
“Many of the people have been on the housing list for years and in the meantime they pay rent to landlords to live in backyards,” he says.
“During the lockdown many of the people who are already sukkeling lost their jobs and landlords still hiked the rent. The situation is bad and many people can’t afford the rents and are in dire straits, so they opted to erect shacks.”
Howard says Law Enforcement officers arrived on Saturday and officials dismantled about 160 shacks, causing an uproar.
“They opened fire and shot so many people with rubber bullets. What people don’t understand is how desperate we are for a house and with the virus nobody can self-isolate.
“People are scared of contracting the virus and dying.”
Law Enforcement spokesperson, Wayne Dyason, says their officers were protecting officials from the Human Settlements department who were demolishing the shacks when the community pelted them with stones.
“Law Enforcement discharged rubber rounds to protect housing staff who were being stoned and attacked. We have no record of any injuries as none were reported to us.
“Three males were arrested for public violence.”
Mayco Member for Human Settlements, Malusi Booi, says the land invaded is owned by the City of Cape Town, provincial government and private entities: “During the late afternoon on Friday, the City acted on complaints from the community.
“This invasion site was an informal settlement and the City previously assisted by moving the people to a formal housing area.
“It is believed the same group of people is trying to reoccupy this piece of land, which is an unlawful action.”
He says on the day notices were issued to the invaders to vacate but officials were chased out of the area.
He says the City will be engaging with the invaders.