In the early morning of Monday, 28 September, lots of people from the informal settlements Kokotela in Lawley 2, Lakeview, Kuvukiland and Phumulamqashi (south of Johannesburg), were woken up by their leaders with the message that they should get ready for a total shutdown which was to happen in different places. This message had previously circulated on social media, reporting that people were organising a shut down to stand together against evictions which are being planned by the City of Johannesburg (CoJ).
The residents of these areas stood together in the early hours (2am) making sure that no one would be coming in or out of the area, whether it be private transport, taxis or any other kind of transport. They closed down the Lawley main road and all the other surrounding areas. This also affected learners who were going to school, in particular the matriculants who are writing their trial exams. School gates were closed and some learners returned home, since teachers could not get inside Lawley.
Skhumbuzo, a 37-year-old male said; “it’s a pity that this was done at a time when learners are writing, but we are scared of losing our homes. We are looking for a place to call home and are tired or renting. The possibility that the Red Ants will evict us has caused us not to have peace. Now that we are on Level 1 the government and COJ are coming for us but we are ready and are not going anywhere. Some people have lost their jobs because of Coronavirus and the lockdown so where can people go if they are removed from this place?”
This protest has bought two parties in the areas to stand together in ensuring that no one moves in or out during the shutdown, with some EFF and ANC members wearing their T-shirts at the demonstration.
‘Madala’ (not his real name), an older citizen, said he is from Alexandra but came here because he wanted his own space and a big yard and privacy. “I am a member of SANCO and I stand together with the community. We can do better and get the government to give us this place so we can receive proper housing, sanitation and electricity. But as always the government takes its time to provide us with basic needs. We tired and sick of paying rent.”
Police arrived in the early hours as well to try prevent the community from shutting down by shooting rubber bullets but that didn’t stop them and they continued to protest. Around 12pm the South African National Defence Force were sent to help and disperse the angry crowd. These conflicts lasted for some time as people would run away but then come back again to continue with their demonstration. After 2 hours the community were dispersed by the soldiers.
Throughout the shutdown no official from the City or the government came to address the residents. After the burning of tires and waking up early in the morning the residents went back to their homes with no news or any assurance that they would not be removed from the place they have occupied in search of a home.
This article was submitted on 28 September 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.