Macassar land invasion is 'politically instigated'
May 22, 2009 Edition 2
A MACASSAR community leader and the area's councillor have charged that a land invasion there was politically instigated.
Many of the backyard dwellers who invaded council land close to the N2 on Monday were yesterday still without a roof over their heads.
ID councillor John Heuvel said the land occupation appeared well organised and community leader Cedric Coffin said the plight of homeless people was being exploited.
For the second time this week, law enforcement officials confiscated building materials yesterday morning after backyarders took refuge on land adjacent to the land they were evicted from earlier this week.
People claimed Heuvel gave the go-ahead for 70 families to erect shacks.
"That is pure nonsense. I met their representatives in the presence of police and council officials and made it clear that people must return to the homes where they came from. I can't go and give away council property.
"The problem is certain elements are stoking this thing (occupation). All the backyard dwellers could not have been evicted from their homes at the same time. Politics are involved here. These elements are busy with nonsense," Heuvel said.
Earlier, Abahlali baseMjondolo leader Mzonke Poni urged the destitute backyarders to pressure the authorities by remaining out in the open. He also told them to avoid negotiations with authorities.
His organisation says it represents backyard dwellers and homeless people.
"Their (the authorities) strength is they are educated. They will beat you in negotiations. What we have is the strength to sleep outside in the open. We are good at mobilising outside and this means we put more pressure on them and more pressure on police who have other things to do. We must make sure we create an impact. We must also sleep on open space where people can see us," Poni said to applause.
Shortly after Poni spoke, Coffin confronted UWC professor Martin Legassick who has been seen with the backyard dwellers since Tuesday. It was his detention on Tuesday which sparked a clash between police and backyarders.
"You guys are sending out the wrong message. You are an educated person who is supposed to guide them," Coffin told Legassick.
Legassick asked Coffin whether he had a home and told him to share his views with the homeless people.
Said Coffin: "He is so educated. Why did they not get an interdict to stop the eviction? They are busy with a bigger campaign and are using these poor people. They are not here at night when it's cold. My concern is the small children."
Backyarder Chandre Williams said: "During daytime many people are here, but at night we are few, as people go back to sleep at their homes.
"It is not fair. We must stand together."