On 13 February 2018 a large tract of empty land was occupied in Tembisa, on the East Rand. During apartheid the land was used by the army. Since then it has remained unused. There were more than 700 occupiers and they were members of various organisations and came from a number of areas including Jiyane, Vusimuzi, Sivana, Welamulambo, Mgantsa and Thafani Section. Some had been renting shacks and others were living with their parents or grandparents in four room township houses. Sometimes there are ten or even fourteen people living in these four room houses. Young people need a place of their own to raise their children.
Submitted to Enough is Enough.
Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.
The occupiers marked out 20 by 20 stands and the new settlement was carefully planned. On the day of the occupation the Municipality arrived and said that they planned to build 7 500 government houses in the area. Since then there has been no further discussion of the promised houses.
Some of the occupiers registered for government houses as far back as 1996. They still have their forms but the promised houses were never delivered.
The occupation was first attacked on 26 February. The shacks that have been built on the occupation have now been destroyed twelve times. At first the metro police were coming once a month. Now they are coming almost every day. They attacked us on 2 and 3 July. They didn’t talk to us. They just started breaking and burning and beating us.
If a bribe is offered to the metro police they will leave that person’s shack. But if no bribe is offered they will destroy the shack and burn or confiscate the building materials. The police have now also started to burn anything inside the shacks including clothes, beds, blankets and mattresses, and to confiscate tools for building.
Recently the police have become very violent during the evictions. This week a fourteen-year-old boy was throttled and beaten for taking a photograph of the police. One lady was injured after her shack was destroyed while she was still inside it and a piece of zinc sheeting hit her head. A pregnant woman was assaulted by the police. Another woman is in hospital after she collapsed in fear during an attack by the police.
Currently 65 people are still sleeping on the land. After each eviction they are rebuilding, but with plastic and paper because their building materials have been confiscated or burnt and people have no money to buy more zincs. We try and keep warm with izimbawula but it is bitterly cold at night. Many of us are sick, especially children and older people.
The government has failed us. We have no jobs and no houses. Corruption is everywhere. There is serious overcrowding in the shack settlements and in the townships houses. We are forced to live without dignity. This has forced to take responsibility for our own lives, to govern ourselves and to occupy. We want houses for our children. We don’t mind to build our own houses but we need to have land first. In fact, we don’t want the government’s RDPs. We just want them to allow us to remain on the land that we have occupied and to give us services. We can build our own houses and plan our own community.
We are members of different organisations but we are working hard to build unity in struggle.
We are desperate and we will not turn back.
Land & Dignity!
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