Funeka Sikhafungana said law enforcement officials demolished her shack, seizing her building materials and personal belongings in Nkandla informal settlement in Bloekombos (near Kraaifontein, Cape Town) on Monday.
Sikhafungana, a seasonal farmworker, said the officials have been raiding Nkandla since February, when the people first settled on the land. "The officials have raided Nkandla on 10 occasions and confiscated my building materials each time," she said.
She said that after each demolition she rebuilt her shack, picking up "bits and pieces" of discarded building materials and asking people to give her unused materials.
"The officials found me sitting beside a paraffin heater to warm myself up and told me to move out before they destroyed my shack," said Sikhafungana.
She said the officials took her building materials and a suitcase that contained her clothes and her eight-year-old son's school uniform.
The residents said their landlords tell them to go and stay in Nkandla because they won't have to pay rent there.
"I don't know what my son will wear when schools reopen this month. I badly want the uniform back, because I have no money to buy another one," said Sikhafungana. Her son is at Bloekombos Primary School.
"No personal belongings were removed from the site other than the building material," councillor Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for Area North, claimed — although she then said Sikhafungana could make an appointment to collect her belongings at the offices of the Anti-land Invasion Unit.
Limberg said the land belongs to the city and is earmarked for future housing projects. She said the city removed shacks on the land because they were built illegally.
Zukile Dyantyi, a Social Justice Coalition branch leader, said about 240 people stay in cold, flooded and badly built shacks in Nkandla informal settlement. He said many residents want to move on to the land despite the city's attempts to remove shack dwellers.
"Yesterday, six homeless residents said their landlords threw them out because they failed to pay rent, and they now want to stay here," he said.
"The residents said their landlords tell them to go and stay in Nkandla because they won't have to pay rent there," said Dyantyi. "They have no food, so they starve. We say the city must assist where it can."
Sikhafungana used to rent a backyard shack in section 15, Bloekombos, but moved when her landlord increased the rent from R400 to R550. "I could not afford such an amount of money, so I left and settled here."
After the law enforcement officials left, people continued setting up new shacks.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the misspelling of Funeka Sikhafungana's first name.