A year of suffering in Lwandle with no end

28 June 2015 - 02:04 By NASHIRA DAVIDS


After making headlines a year ago when they were brutally evicted from their homes on one of the coldest days of winter, the suffering of a group of Western Cape shack dwellers is only getting worse. Authorities razed the shacks of 849 people living on land belonging to the South African National Roads Agency in Lwandle, Strand, and confiscated their belongings.story_article_left1Some of them have spent almost the entire year living in a nearby community hall, waiting in vain for their belongings to be returned.An inquiry by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu concluded that the evictions, carried out by Sanral, the City of Cape Town and police, were illegal because an eviction order had not been granted."The rights of the landless poor are no less important than the affluent. In fact, illegal evictions threaten the very basis of our human rights ethos and take us back to the era of forced removals," said Sisulu.Only 484 of the people were allowed to "temporarily" return to the land, and small corrugated-iron shacks sprouted in the area, which is now referred to as Siyanyanzela.Only one section has communal toilets and taps.On the same day that Palesa Japhta (not her real name) was evicted, she was diagnosed with heart and kidney failure.Today she is bedridden and watches helplessly as water drips onto her bed and the icy wind cuts through the shack."I can't use the toilets here. Each time I go I get a kidney infection. Sometimes when I have R1, I to go to Shoprite's public toilet."There are days that I have the money but not the strength to get there," said Japhta, who asked for a pseudonym to be used to "protect her children's dignity".full_story_image_hleft1"All I need is a warm place with running water."Behind another door, Bongile Gebengu tries to salvage a charred chair.A fire gutted his shack and he lost everything for the second time.Nearby, 21-year-old single mother-of-four Asiphe Mcinga is feeding her baby. She was pregnant when she was forced to leave.story_article_right2"I slept on the floor in the hall on just a thin blanket. It was so cold I thought I would die and the baby would die," said Mcinga, who watches the children like a hawk after a child drowned in a nearby canal.The trauma is evident everywhere. One of the only positives is the training of eight women, by an NGO called Ubuntu Touch Project, in massage therapy and Reiki."We can help people who have been through traumatic situations because massage helped us," said Bongiwe Gcilitshane.This week Sanral was back at the High Court in Cape Town to pursue its interdict against the community who have illegally occupied its land.Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said it was not "mandated to deal with land issues".The land has been "earmarked for the development of the N2 to alleviate traffic congestion in Somerset West".davidsn@sundaytimes.co.za

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