Violence erupts as Bapsfontein squatters are relocated Print E-mail
News - Aktueel
Monday, 28 February 2011 07:44
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Bapsfontein erupted in violence as angry squatters protested against their forced removal from the town's informal settlement. During December and January roads were blockaded with rubbish and burning tyres. Several people were arrested for public violence. Three thousand Bapsfontein families and 3 180 informal structures had to be moved to the Chief Albert Luthuli Park, while rescue agencies such as Wet Nose Animal Rescue Centre had to cope with the animals left behind.

Residents of the Bapsfontein informal settlement blocked entrance roads to avoid being relocated
Photo's: Sapa

Residents' protest turned violent as they threw bottles and rocks at the police and the Red Ants, the controversial Gauteng security guards who have been criticised for their tough tactics in evicting people from properties. The Red Ants retaliated, also throwing stones, while police fired rubber bullets.

The Luthuli flagship project near Benoni, where Bapsfontein squatters were moved to, is one of only three in the country. In terms of an agreement among home owners, Absa, the municipality and the Gauteng government, shacks are prohibited.

A metro policeman shoots with rubber bullets at protesting Bapsfontein residents

Luthuli residents are therefore dissatisfied over the establishment of the Bapsfontein shacks. Metro spokesperson Zweli Dlamini said the decision to move the residents was due to an emergency. The relocation is in terms of a declaration by Ekurhuleni councillor Mondli Gungubele in terms of Section 55 of the Disaster Management Act.

The settlement was declared a local state of disaster which was not safe for human settlement due to dolomite instability. Dolomite dissolves over time, posing a danger of cave-ins known as sink holes.

Apparently the situation was so serious that the move had to take place over the festive season.

Protests against forced relocation

However, the relocation was postponed to January due to wet weather. Fanie van Wyk, who bought the land on which the squatters stayed at an auction about three years ago, said he never minded the squatters being there. He said that he wasn't consulted about the relocation and found out about it through a notice declaring the land a disaster area.

According to a spokesperson for Wet Nose Animal Rescue centre, many dogs were left behind at Bapsfontein. In January some families were still in the process of being relocated. Many of the animals were tied to tires and trees, left to scavenge for food and didn't understand what was happening, as the shacks were broken down all around them.

The dogs left behind

Wet Nose is now inundated with dogs and appeals to animal lovers to adopt a dog. For more information call 013-932-3941/2.

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