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RESIDENTS from the Durban informal settlement of Cato Crest received a reprieve from the possible demolition of their shacks yesterday after the eThekwini Metro Municipality called for a halt to the bulldozing.
Spokesperson for the municipality, Thabo Mofokeng, confirmed yesterday that eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo and head of the municipality’s housing department, councillor Nigel Gumede, held a meeting with the residents where a decision was reached that no shacks will be demolished until alternative accommodation is found.
The shacks were being taken down to make way for the building of government-subsidised houses. But the reprieve came too late for five households whose homes were bulldozed on Monday.
Mofokeng said although the community had agreed that shacks will be voluntarily demolished, some members of the community — most of whom are tenants — failed to apply for the houses, and were reluctant to move.
“The municipality was not involved in the demolition of shacks, but the local community had decided that they will voluntarily vacate them.”
He said there will be a meeting on February 5 where a final decision will be conveyed to the community about the way forward.
Residents complained that the decision to destroy their shacks was taken by an ANC committee in the area, and they believed they were being targeted because they were supporters of the Democratic Alliance (DA).
DA councillor Hlanganani Gumbi said DA’s top leaders, including members of parliament, had to intervene to stop the demolition of shacks on Monday while Gumbi and another DA councillor, Warwick Chapman, were holding a meeting with Nxumalo over the matter.
Yesterday the DA provincial leader Sizwe Mchunu and other DA leaders visited the area to hear grievances of the local DA members about the demolitions.
Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed yesterday that a case of illegal eviction of unlawful occupier of land was opened.