Kraaifontein woman killed in land-grab riots

Community Activist Linda Phito

Police are
investigating the death of a 19-year-old Kraaifontein woman who was shot in
the head during weekend land-invasion riots in Bloekombos.

According to
provincial police spokeswoman Brigadier Novela Potelwa, a 62-year-old man and
13 others were arrested on Sunday in connection with her killing. Police have not yet identified the dead woman. 

The area has been
volatile for weeks, following land invasions at Tygerberg Raceway and on land 
along the Old Paarl Road in Bloekombos earmarked for the R110 million Maroela North housing project.

More than 500 protesters had stormed businesses along the Old Paarl Road, burning tyres and stoning
cars, just after 3pm on Saturday, 
Brigadier Potelwa said. Riot police had tried to stop them entering the businesses, but some of the rioters had forced their way through, firing shots into the
crowd. A bullet had hit the 19-year-old woman in the head and she had collapsed and died at the scene.

“Police retaliated by
firing rubber bullets to disperse the crowd and a 36-year-old man was hit in
the knee,” Brigadier 
Potelwa said.

All arrested suspects
are due to appear in court this week.

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said rioting had erupted after City law enforcement, assisted
by police, had served a court eviction order, on Thursday August 6, on Bloekombos land invaders. 

Community activist
Linda Phito condemned the rioting and urged the community to
deal with the situation in a peaceful manner.

Backyarders had occupied land, he said, because the Covid-19 crisis had hit them hard with job losses and rent hikes. They wanted the City to find alternative land for them.

“We look like the bad
people because we are protesting, but the City has not considered our people.
They have nowhere to go, they have suffered job losses and cannot afford rent,”
said Mr Phito.

Florence Khwephe said she had asked the City to find somewhere for her and her three children to stay because she could no longer afford to pay R700 rent as a backyarder.

“We live off a grant
and cannot afford to pay rent and buy food so I had to make the right decision
to come and build my place here,” she said.

But Mr Booi said the
recent land invasions had hurt the very housing project in
Bloekombos that was meant to help backyarders. More than 1000 people
were on the beneficiary list, he said.

In the last month, the
City had removed 21 000 pegs used to mark plots for illegal occupation and 4500 illegal shacks in Bloekombos and surrounds, he said.

“The City uses aerial
imagery to track attempts to occupy vacant land.
We do not have the
resources to cater to new settlements forming overnight and this impacts our
neighbourhoods and existing housing and services projects,” he said, adding that housing projects worth more than R1.3 billion were
 under threat across the City.

He urged the public to tip off the authorities, anonymously if necessary, by calling 112 from a cell phone (toll free) and 107
from a landline or 021 480 7700 for emergencies.

Chris Liebenbergch, who has leased the Tygerberg Raceway premises from the City since 1994, refused to comment on the recent land
invasions in the area.