Vrygrond land occupiers defiant

The car belonging to ward councillor Gerry Gordon was torched. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare

Backyarders in Vrygrond near Muizenberg have vowed to continue building shacks on a piece of land that they have occupied because they cannot “afford to pay rent” anymore.

Vrygrond, Cape Town, South Africa

Vrygrond backyarders started rebuilding shacks in an open area called Xakabantu next to Vrygrond despite their engagement last month with the City of Cape Town.

Some started rebuilding their shacks two weeks ago. On Sunday, the City’s law enforcement personnel demolished the shacks for the third time this past month.

After addressing the community on Sunday, Councillor Gerry Gordon’s Toyota C-HR was torched but it is not clear who was responsible, according to the City of Cape Town.

A recycling site is also run at Xakabantu. When Elitsha visited the Vrygrond there were some men all over stripping remains of the car.

According to a message sent on the City’s Whatsapp group the councillor at one stage was reportedly held hostage at the Italy Sportsfield.

Michael Khumalo, one of the community leaders, refuted the statement: “When the councillor walked in the recycling area that is when her vehicle was burnt. I protected her from the community. In fact, some leaders were engaging with her and no one held her hostage,” he said.

Khumalo blames the City’s actions for the torching of Councillor Gordon’s car.

“The City just walk in start destroying the shacks without any court papers or even accompanied by SAPS (that has the mandate of protecting residents anytime). If we try ask for the court papers, the law enforcement pepper sprays us,” he says.

Some backyarders rebuilding their shacks after they were demolished by the City of Cape Town on Sunday. GroundUp reported previously that the land had been rezoned by the City of Cape Town as a nature reserve. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare

Elitsha spoke to some backyarders who were again busy rebuilding the shacks. They all said they had nowhere to go since they could no longer afford to pay rent.

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“The City has taken all my stuff in my shack. I really do not know where to start or where I am to get the support to start my life,” said Masixole Mado who had only just begun building his shack from last Sunday when the City demolished it.

Mado once stayed in Overcome Heights before moving to Vrygrond. He cannot afford the R450 rent for a room to accommodate him, his wife and their child. They survive on a child grant. After speaking to Elitsha Mado returned to the task of building.

Nolubabalo Nojoko who was busy clearing her space with a spade said that she, like Mado, cannot afford to pay the rent as a backyarder.

“I was kicked out of the room where I previously rented because I had failed paying rent for three months. Now I can not stay under the bridge with my children – that is why I continue rebuilding the shack,” she says.

She used to stay in Vrygrond as a backyarder paying R500 rent per month.

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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.