A day after they were violently thrown off land they had illegally invaded, defiant Bo-Kaap residents went back to the veldjie to start rebuilding their shacks.
On Wednesday four people, including a child, ended up in hospital after officers from the City of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit, armed with shotguns, started firing rubber bullets at mense.
The injured people said they would be laying charges of assault with police.
Members of the newly formed Bo-Kaap Disadvantaged Community erected the shacks along Voetboog and Military roads in protest of a lack of affordable housing in the historical area.
An angry Shahied Robain, 43, who started the new movement and who was also assaulted, said Thursday he will keep on protesting until he gets a house in the area where he was born.
By Thursday night, one shack had already been erected.
“I’m still here. They came on Wednesday and without a word or a warning, they broke down the shacks and pushed people around,” he says.
“A little boy, only 12 years old, was pushed until he fell. He did nothing, he was just sitting with his family.”
Mogamat Shahied Hendricks, 58, says he was sleeping inside his hokkie when he was “brutally” removed.
“They first pepper-sprayed me, then dragged me out of the hokkie. I then felt the blows as they hit me in the head with the shotguns. I just tried to cover my face. I was taken to Somerset Hospital,” Hendricks said.
He has six children and says currently they are 23 people living in a three-bedroomed house.
“My children are married and they also need homes.”
An angry Bahia Isaacs, 54, says she was pushed around by six officers and wants an apology from one who called her a ‘vark’.
“He came here and called me a vark. Ek kan sy ma gewiesit! I want my house built here where I grew up,” she says.
Robain says many residents can no longer afford to buy homes in Bo-Kaap due to gentrification pushing up real estate prices as well as rates and taxes.
He still sleeps in his mother’s lounge with his wife, two daughters and grandchild, and says he’s been on the City’s housing waiting list for 22 years.
Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Councillor Xanthea Limberg, says: “The community became hostile towards the ALIU staff and contactor during the operation, and the officials therefore had to make use of pepper spray in their defence.”
Mayco Member for Urban Development Brett Herron said the available land in Bo-Kaap is owned by national government.
He said the City was currently looking at council-owned land in the city precinct for low-cost housing development.