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  Housing dispute sparks race clash

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PosOnderwerp: Housing dispute sparks race clash   Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:13 pm

Tempers flared, emotions ran high and racist insults were hurled as groups of Mitchell's Plain shack dwellers clashed over unfinished government-subsidised houses, invaded by groups of backyarders on Tuesday.

Metro Police and law enforcement officers had to intervene during several tense stand-offs between the groups, with both sides claiming they were beneficiaries of the houses still under construction in Hyde Park and Eastridge. Some said they had waited years for their homes and were concerned about being overlooked.

The trouble started late on Tuesday when about 100 people from the nearby Silver City and Lost City informal settlements, and backyarders in the area, invaded the Hyde Park houses.

Scuffles broke out as they were confronted by Hyde Park backyard dwellers, and law enforcement officers had to step in. Soon after midnight another invasion took place in Eastridge, about a kilometre away.

Yesterday, angry backyarders, evicted earlier, returned to Hyde Park where they and other backyarders became embroiled in heated exchanges, while in Eastridge physical confrontations broke out between the invaders and backyarders of that area.

In both areas, people confronted each other over ownership of the empty houses and rushed to take up positions in doorways before someone else could get to the house.

Jostling and swearing followed as arguments ensued.

"You k****** have your own place. You don't belong here. Go back to your land. You want (to) take over everywhere," an angry Eastridge woman shouted. Incensed, a backyarder and one of those illegally occupying the houses, shouted: "You m****o. You hungry lions. We are not k****** and we are not going anywhere."

Zoliswa Kabeni, from Lost City, said: "We all need houses, but this thing is now becoming a racial issue. It should not matter where people come from."

Earlier, Pumeza Sonti, who was involved in the invasion, said people who had been on the waiting list for years became desperate after learning that some names had "disappeared", while those who only got on to the list recently would get houses.

"There are 91 houses in Hyde Park standing empty. Why? We'll occupy them if nobody lives there. We live in Silver Town in shacks that are miserable. We've peacefully occupied the houses. We were not violent, but law enforcement fired rubber bullets," she said.

Backyarders, people from Silver City and others all told a similar story - they had been on the list for many years, their living conditions were terrible and their children were sick.

Some said landlords charged them rent they could not afford. Many produced red cards - proof that they applied for homes in the early 1990s.

Asa Jacobs, a mother of six who lives in a shack in Freedom Park, said: "Where we live the environment is horrible. Our shack is wet and cold and I have young children."

City councillor Danny Christians, who tried in vain to calm the Hyde Park crowd, told them: "We know you want houses. We know there are complaints of corruption, but the investigation is ongoing. We'll find a way to deal with the problem, but you can't invade the houses."

His words were met by chants of "We want houses, we want houses".

Approached about the invasions, newly elected DA ward councillor Maria Weavers said: "We must sort out the waiting list and see who is entitled to a house. This is so that when houses are finished people must move in. I will collect information and also raise this matter with the housing officials. For now, law enforcement must deal with the situation."

Hyde Park and Eastridge were quiet but tense last night, and law enforcement officers stayed in the areas.

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?from=rss_South%20Africa&set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=vn20100812043853118C547717&singlepage=1

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