| Illegal occupiers destroy municipal structures in Stellenbosch as Red Ants demolish their shacks

Illegal occupiers destroyed municipal structures provided for a housing project on Tuesday in retaliation for their eviction from private agricultural property in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch.

The Stellenbosch Municipality and the private property owner obtained court interdicts and eviction orders.

Ward councillor Nokuthula Managa-Gugushe said law enforcement officials were forced to use teargas to disperse the crowd when occupiers became violent during the eviction.

“The Red Ants placed the court order on boards, as instructed by the sheriff of the court. This is not municipal land. It is privately-owned land. So, the Red Ants are here to demolish the informal structures,” she said.

Stellenbosch Municipality spokesperson Stuart Grobbelaar said the municipality has had several meetings with backyard dwellers.

“We are keenly aware and sympathetic to the great need for accommodation among our low-income groups and vulnerable groups, and the challenges they face. Our housing list currently has a backlog of more than 22 000,” Grobbelaar said.

“The municipality is forced to continually balance the concerns of residents in desperate need of housing opportunities and [the need] to protect the rights of property owners.”

Grobbelaar added that the illegal construction of structures also contributed to conflict and unrest within the affected communities.

Managa-Gugushe said that the situation in the area was still volatile and that community meetings were arranged to resolve the issue.

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