Gugulethu backyaders tell de Lille that they are tired of empty promises

Gugulethu backyarders marching to the police station demanding to have a meeting with the mayor. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare

In a meeting that took place on Tuesday between the Mayor, Patricia de Lille and Gugulethu Backyarders who have occupied pieces of land around Gugulethu, they told her that they are tired of empty promises of housing delivery.

Gugulethu Sports Complex, Steve Biko Street, Guguletu, Cape Town, South Africa

Gugulethu backyarders today vowed to continue their occupation of vacant land they invaded last week despite the request made by Mayor Patricia de Lille resolve the matter in dialogue with the leadership.

De Lille engaged with the backyarders on Tuesday at Gugulethu Sports complex, attended by close to thousand backyarders. The meeting was called after the backyarders had a running battle with the police to defend the occupation.

A scuffle between the backyard leadership ensued delaying the process by some minutes.

“We have listened to your concern. As I promised you earlier on, the only way to go is to work together as one. Give us today and Wednesday to look into your concern, then we will call your leadership for a meeting on Thursday. I do not have all your answers now. Please I do not want to lie to you,” said the mayor, promising also to engage with the owners of the land that has been invaded.

“My office needs to also establish what is the thinking of these land owners. Remember they also have the same rights as yours,” she said.

She promised to hold several meetings with the backyarders till their land question is solved.

“We want to work with you but please let us occupy those pieces of land while you continue with those meetings. We are really tired of empty promises. Tell your police not to disturb us as when we are erecting our structures on those pieces of land,” replied Nombeko Leputhing, who complained that the Red Ants, the eviction division of the City of Cape Town, confiscated their building material last week.

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Speaking to the mayor, Phindile Nazo, one of the leaders of Gugulethu backyarders, did not mince his words. “Mayor, remember when our fathers were displaced long back, during apartheid. There were no such meetings like you are telling us. They were forced off their rightful land. Now we are not going to listen to any procedures. From the meeting we are going back to continue building our shacks,” he said.

Siyabulela Mzamane says his dignity is taken away by the way he is living in Gugulethu as a backyarder.

“I have been waiting for 26 years to get a piece of land for building my own house. I am frustrated by the way we are currently living. Imagine nine people in a three-bedroomed house using one toilet. All we want today is the land to build what we call our own home.

“You see, I am a man: I need my own space and my children. In the long run my children should also be proud of what they call our home,” he says.

Meanwhile, Mirvin Tshabalala, the leader of the backyarders asked the mayor not to allow the Gugulethu land issue to be politicised.

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About Bernard Chiguvare 56 Articles
Originally from Zimbabwe and since 2014 I been contributing to different publications in South Africa. My area of focus as a reporter is on the rights of vulnerable communities and foreign nationals in any country.