The attempted removal of a land occupation in the Vaal area of Gauteng has claimed 3 lives already and occupiers are adamant that they will not be moved. The government through the police and private security have responded violently to land occupations throughout the country.
As the struggle for houses and land continues in Johannesburg, residents of Univille and Vlakfontein in the south of Lenasia are prepared to lay down their lives. They claim this is their historic mission which they will pursue relentlessly. This call came after their deadly spat with security guards that saw two protesters and one guard die. Some were admitted to hospitals with serious injuries. They accused the infamous security company, the Red Ants, of evicting them from the land they were occupying without a court order.
“We are prepared for another Marikana,” charged one of the leaders in the protest, Thami Hukwe. He said their comrades never died in vain but have ignited their spirit to continue with their fight for land and decent housing. “We will never stop occupying land. We are going to mobilise other townships to join the struggle.” He added they don’t want land for squatter camps or informal settlements but they are capable to build themselves decent houses. “All we want is land.”
Residents further explained that before they were evicted they had already occupied that land for three months and had built shacks. The area is called Extension 4 in Vlakfontein.
“In 2012, the government earmarked this place for RDP houses. They took long to built houses here. Now all of a sudden we saw some private developers erecting walls around it. We couldn’t stand and look when they tried to take our land. We mobilised ourselves and occupied it,” said another resident, Lerato Walaza.
Though some shacks were demolished, others are still standing. She said they were too many, they could not be easily defeated, whatever the cost in lives. As they prepare for the burials, authorities have called for calm and peace in the area.
In his statement, Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements, Paul Mashatile, sent his condolences and called for law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the matter. He said his department will also work together with all the municipalities to find a lasting solution to illegal land invasions.
While negotiations are continuing, Walaza and other residents believe their actions made a strong statement and they are adamant that they will be allowed to remain on that land.