Weekend Post (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - No­maz­ima Nkosi nkosino@ti­soblack­

THEY in­vade land il­le­gally, not as a de­lib­er­ate act of de­fi­ance against the gov­ern­ment, but be­cause the al­ter­na­tive has be­come un­bear­able.

They hope that erect­ing shacks on open pieces of land will re­move them from the back­yards of home­own­ers into the spot­light as a re­minder to those in power that they too are wait­ing their turn for houses.

These are the thou­sands of fam­i­lies set­ting up homes for them­selves, cre­at­ing new in­for­mal set­tle­ments all around Nel­son Man­dela Bay.

Sit­ting out­side his one-room shack in Mother­well in the scorch­ing heat, Mtho­beli Oliphant is one of thou­sands of res­i­dents con­sid­ered to be oc­cu­py­ing land il­le­gally.

Oliphant, a fa­ther of two, said he had moved out of his Zwide fam­ily home be­cause he wanted to cre­ate a home for his chil­dren, and as some­one over 40 , he felt it was time to make his own way.

He is un­em­ployed and re­lies on tem­po­rary con­struc­tion jobs to sur­vive.

“I know there’s a hous­ing back­log but I also feel there’s an el­e­ment of cor­rup­tion in why we are not get­ting houses,” he said.

The No­makan­jani in­for­mal set­tle­ment res­i­dent said he had erected his shack there be­cause he saw that the land was va­cant.

There are no bulk ser­vices, which means the fam­i­lies do not have ac­cess to wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and elec­tric­ity ser­vices.

“In order to feel like a proper and de­cent hu­man be­ing, one doesn’t need a brick house – just wa­ter, elec­tric­ity, toi­lets and roads so that am­bu­lances and the po­lice can safely get to where they are needed,” Oliphant said.

Zuk­iswa Lose, 44, who was one of those evicted by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity last year from the land in­vaded in Wells Es­tate, said she was con­stantly fighting with her fam­ily and de­cided to build a home for her­self and her chil­dren.

The fact that her el­dest child was 19 was also a de­cid­ing fac­tor, she said.

Like her neigh­bour, Lose said she would move to an­other area if the mu­nic­i­pal­ity pro­vided land with ser­vices.

At Uiten­hage’s Moegge­sukkel in­for­mal set­tle­ment, Frank Miggels de­scribed how he had been liv­ing un­der hor­ren­dous con­di­tions for the past 12 years.

Miggels said his fam­ily had be­come ac­cus­tomed to liv­ing with­out ba­sic ser­vices.

“We are tired of fighting with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. We are tired of toyi-toy­ing and we are tired of loot­ing for­eign shops,” he said.

“We’ve been stuck like this for a very long time. When it’s time to vote, politi­cians come here, bring food parcels and make all sorts of prom­ises.”

Ronel Jonas, 30, said the La­p­land in­for­mal set­tle­ment was the only home she had ever known, which was why she ig­nored calls by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to move.

“I was born here, my par­ents live here, so when they tell us we’re oc­cu­py­ing land il­le­gally that doesn’t mean any­thing to me be­cause we be­long here.”

Jo­hanna Pitt, 64, said she had been liv­ing in La­p­land for nearly four years wait­ing for the hu­man set­tle­ments depart­ment to iden­tify land for them.

“It was heart­break­ing when the mu­nic­i­pal­ity came here to de­mol­ish our homes in 2015 like we weren’t even hu­man be­ings.”

Pitt said there were more than 400 fam­i­lies liv­ing in La­p­land with­out any ba­sic ser­vices.

She was aware the gov­ern­ment would not build them houses as La­p­land was sit­u­ated on a flood­plain, But she said they would move if given al­ter­na­tive space. “No one wants to live like this.”


LOOK­ING FOR HOMES: Squat­ters from the Bay give their views on land re­form, in­clud­ing Mtho­beli Oliphant, 41, left, and Yan­disa Lot­sho, 32, from Mother­well

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