Backyard-dwellers attempt to occupy vacant land and then march on Housing MEC's posh home in Gugulethu
Update on this weekend's attempted land occupation:
While attempting to occupy vacant land in Gugulethu (see original statement below), residents were interrupted by over 50 police officers who, at gun point, illegally stole residents' building materials and threatened to attack residents if they resisted. Angry about the situation, residents decided to march on Housing MEC Whitey Jacob's home in the upscale Malunga Park area of Gugulethu.
In order to get the attention of Jacobs who, like his predecessor, has not been listening to the grievances of Cape Town's poor, residents decided to clean up the trash from a near-by informal settlement and place it in front of the MEC's home. After Jacob's arrived in his brand-new volvo SUV with his body-guard and four police vehicles at his side, he was presented with this attached memorandum.
Once Jacobs agreed to engage with residents at their weekly meetings, residents decided to clean up all the trash as a good-will gesture. But angry residents warned the MEC that if he continues with the anti-poor policies and the authoritarian approach of his predecessor, more mass action will take place.
On a more humorous note:
The MEC asked the Gugulethu Anti-Eviction Campaign for the physical address of the Gugulethu branch of movement. Residents replied that the address is the Gugulethu Sports Complex where they hold their weekly mass meetings. Confused, the MEC replied that as an organisation, the AEC must have an office of some kind. But residents were adamant: We are not an organisation, we are a social movement. We exist only because residents attend our actions. We don't have an office. Our meeting places is the Sports Complex, and if you want to correspond with us, you must come to our mass meetings held there every Sunday. Because the MEC has no understanding of working with the people instead of on their behalf, he is oblivious on how to engage with residents of Gugulethu. Hopefully, at our meeting next sunday, we can teach him a thing or two about democracy.
Gugulethu Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
Saturday September 6, 2008 at 12:30
Gugulethu – After attempting to highlight pervasive corruption in the allocation of housing by occupying empty flats in a Langa housing development last month, Backyard Dwellers are now taking action against the City and the Province by occupying empty land in Gugulethu.
While all different levels of government continue to refuse to allocate well-located land to shackdwellers, backyarders and other poor people, government officials see no problem releasing land for new Shoprite developments, malls, golf-courses, and other big-business oriented "urban renewal projects". Officials continue to claim that there is no open land in Cape Town. Yet this city has one of the highest rates of urban sprawl and has more open land than most big cities in the Global South.
Even though the South African government doesn't seem to understand this hypocrisy, backyard dwellers (some of whom have been on the waiting list for over 20 years) no longer have the patience stay cramped up in peoples backyards any longer. This is why Anti-Eviction Backyard Dwellers from Gugulethu, Nyanga, New Crossroads and Langa have decided to take matters into their own hands.
The AEC Backyard Dwellers are currently setting up their new informal homes in Gugulethu just off of Landsdowne Rd. The ELF# for the piece of land is RR448. Press and well-wishers are invited to come to the scene immediately to support the residents in their action to secure a livelihood for themselves and their families.
The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign would also like to use this action to welcome Mr Whitey Jacobs, the MEC for Housing in the Western Province, to his new job. We hope that he will have the political courage and humility to listen to the words of Cape Town's poor and oppressed rather than follow the demands of his bosses and the private sector.
The poor must claim their right to drive the so-called Peoples Housing Process.
Power to the poor people!
For more information and for directions, please contact Mncedisi Twalo at 0785808646
For more, please visit the website of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign at: