Rustervaal residents say will not move from informal settlement

SABC News Crime Scene - Rustervaal residents say will not move from informal settlement

Residents at Rustervaal in Vereeniging say they will not move from their informal settlement. Residents clashed with officials from the Red Ants on Wednesday morning after the Red Ants raided their settlement.

The Emfuleni Municipality was allegedly granted an eviction order but residents say they never received a notice.

“When we tried standing, shielding our shacks for them to be protected, the police shoot. We didn’t receive a notice to tell us that we have to leave. They don’t even think about our children. Our children are here, our belongings are here. Right now it’s about to rain, where will we go? And we are not going anywhere, we are staying here.”

Police investigating cases of murder 

Police are investigating two cases of murder and three of attempted murder after violence clashes between Rustervaal residents in Vereeniging and Red Ants.

The Red Ants moved in shortly after 7am. Violence broke out.

A resident allegedly died after he was shot with rubber bullets and a member of the Red Ants member was apparently beaten to death by angry mobs. Two homes were also partially torched.

Like scores of other families, a mother of two returned to her shack with most of her belongs destroyed.

“When I got out, there were the red guys here … a lot of them then. We started to run. They took my shoes, even my ID and certificates. I don’t know what I must do.”

For fear of reprisal, witnesses didn’t want their identity revealed following the death of one of the residents.

“I was at work. They never gave us notice we must move up. Many people are upset. Everybody is upset that’s why they are going to fight back.”

“This thing that these people now we are going to fight against each other for nonsensical things; we must stand together. The Red Ants they come here and do as they please, take peoples food, they destroy the shacks. It’s not right.”

The community insists the action was sanctioned without warning.

“We had a meeting, which was not fruitful, but we know for sure the eviction was suspended until further notice as has been talks (between) stakeholders Sanco and the ANC. We want the mayor and the people responsible for this to come down here and explain. This area has been neglected for so long. The last house that was built was in 1996. Where’s the mayor; where’s his team; where’s the municipality? They only bring the Red Ants to demolish to burn to steal?”

In an act of retaliation, angry mobs later torched homes belonging to local councillors.

An eyewitness Carol Esterhuizen explained what she witnessed.

“All of a sudden, there were a lot of people in front, (who) started throwing stones. I went out of house and stood outside. After that they threw a petrol bomb. So, I ran into the house and I spread (sic) water, so the house can’t burn down.”

SAPS’ Captain Mavela Masondo says the Red Ants acted on a court order.

“As the Red Ants and sheriff acted on a court order that there were people that were occupying the land illegally. So, they went there to demolish the shacks. As the Red Ants were demolishing the shacks, a fight broke out. It was then that us, as police, used minimum force which is rubber bullets to separate the two groups. Two people died and we have started our investigations.”

The Red Ants did not want to comment on camera, but said the matter was under investigation.

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