Zamani backyard dwellers occupy land forcefully

The Zamani community in Duduza, ward 98, who chose to remain anonymous, are keen on occupying land forcefully as the ward Councillor of Zamani, Tefo (Thabo) Patrick Motaung does not seem to consider the cries of community.

A few days before the President announced that we are shifting to level 5 lockdown restrictions last year March 2020, the SANDF from Marievale Military Base in Nigel was present in Zamani. “We as the Duduza Backyard Dwellers were aware of the lockdown and thought that the soldiers came to monitor us in ensuring that we follow the restrictions in place. There’s land here that was occupied by people but these people were moved and placed at John Dube back in 2010. We saw the empty land and tried occupying it, but we were forcefully removed by Red Ants and the Ekurhuleni municipality and they stated that we cannot stay there, because that land is specifically used for agricultural purposes. However, last year under the level 5 lockdown restrictions, people from Marievale moved to Zamani which is not fair at all since most of the residents here need stands to erect shacks of their own,” expressed a resident from Zamani

The residents of Zamani then united and started an organisation called ‘Zamani Community Concern’. The community representatives of Duduza Backyard Dwellers petitioned a memorandum of their concerns to the MMC of Human Settlements seeking his intervention with regards to the re-blocking process including the Marievale relocation. In the petition, they asked their councillor, Thabo Motaung to be involved in human settlements matters. They wanted clarification on the allegations that stands are sold for R5 000, the court order which authorised Marievale residents to relocate to Zamani whilst it excluded the suffering Duduza backyard dwellers and the harassment of some backyard dwellers as they were threatened to be arrested after they protested in August 2020. “Our councillor is failing us a community. On our petition, he said that he’d better the relationship between us as the community and himself, but none of that has happened. We’re families of 7 to 19 in one households. We can’t live like this when there is land and stands available. We have cases of young girls being raped by their uncles or even fathers because of lack of privacy. We live under difficult times of COVID-19, we stay with old people and our health is at risk here since we’re so many in one house. We don’t want much, we just want to occupy these empty spaces and be equal with the community of Marievale. When we try to build our shacks, the EMPD demolishes it and says the land belongs to City of Ekurhuleni. How is this fair to people who grew up here in Duduza yet the Marievale community gets to have stands here? We were told the Marievale community were ordered by the High Court to move here but when we did our investigation, there is no such. People are even willing to stay in wetlands just so they can have a place to stay,” added a community representative.

The community furthermore sought help from the Benoni Human Settlement office and they had two meetings where the councillor promised to provide 50 stands to people, then later said he can only offer 8 as there was no space available any more. He still has not offered a stand to anyone. “We wrote a memorandum to the EMPD to help us have a meeting with the councillor and they failed. We are now occupying land forcefully by taking stands and erecting shacks. We are ready for war,” uttered a community member.

The local newspaper has tried to get hold of the councillor for his comment, unfortunately all his contact numbers are offline.

By Palesa Ndinisa

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