Update: Bapsfontein residents regroup after eviction

Mass mtg Bapsfontein 2 Jan 2011

Pictured above: Residents of Bapsfontein informal settlement during a mass meeting.

By Max Rambau, CORC

This morning (2 Jan) I attended a community general meeting at Bapsfontein together with the ISN. The meeting was intended to discuss the recent forced removals and to also to beef up the local leadership.

The problem of the leadership was that there were divisions within the local leadership caused by political affiliations. An apolitical committee representing the community was formed. The names and contact details of this committee will be sent to me because the elections were done before I arrived.

I briefed the community about the manner in which the Ekurhuleni had undermined the people’s rights in terms of policy that requires government to engage in dialogue with the community before carrying out relocations. I indicated that the officials of Ekurhuleni had also not respected the agreements we had with them whereby we had programmes that were cancelled that included a visit (walkabout) to Bapsfontein, which means that they already knew that forced removals would be carried out.

I also briefed them that there were institutions that had been in touch with me that wanted to assist the community by challenging the Ekurhuleni Municipality in court.

The community expressed their disappointment that they were being forced to move to a land that was not suitable for housing.

The community raised complaints that they were being intimidated to move and threatened by some officials that their shacks would be demolished and that they would remain without accommodation.

Some community members reported that the municipality was “buying” them with a bag of mealie meal, coffee and powdered milk when they arrived at the relocation.

The ISN reported about their walkabout programme and that they were surprised about the move that was taken by the Ekurhuleni municipality to relocate people of Bapsfontein. The ISN indicated that the municipality had undermined them by not informing them when they sit together in meetings. They said that they were opposed to people being moved to a place that was far away from their places of employment and schools. It was reported that people would spend about R36 a day from where they have been relocated to when coming to work.

The ISN suggested that an urgent meeting with the municipality and that a letter to Ekurhuleni should be written today.