In early June, more than 200 residents were evicted from the Bokamuso informal settlement opposite the University of the Free State in QwaQwa. The evictions follow a long court battle by the municipality against a local chief whom the municipality alleges occupied the land illegal and who may have also sold it to residents.
The evicted families are alleging that they paid a local chief to get stands on the land and say the purchases were legal given the chief’s traditional authority.
After bulldozers tore down shacks, MEC for Social Development Sisi Ntombela provided temporary shelter for evicted families at two sites, but some say this accomodation is inadequate.
Many residents also complained that they were not given enough warning ahead of the demolitions to prepare.
“Our worry is that the authorities could have given us more time that we move from the place so that we can make arrangements for places to go,” said a resident, Nthabiseng Moloi, as she busy unpacked her belongings at one of the two designated sites.
“Look at me with these children,” Moloi said. “Where should they sleep during this time of winter?”
“As you can see, there are no heaters,” she added.
The community has approached the South African Human Rights Commission with its grievances.
Women say they fear for children’s well-being[quote float=”right”]“There is no running water for women, and I am afraid there could be an outbreak”
Women at at least one site have also complained about a lack of fresh water, which they said was causing diarrhoea among younger children.
One of the community activists Ntaoleng Hanong said the situation was out of hand and that she feared there could be an outbreak of diarrhoeal disease.
“There is no running water for women, and I am afraid there could be an outbreak,” said Hanong, adding that there was also poor access to aqdequate sanitation.
African National Congress Free State provincial spokesperson Thabo Meeko said that while the municipality was following a court order when it evicted residents, it perhaps could have been better executed.
“We understand the municipality was following a court order when it evicted people,” he told OurHealth. “We however feel that the manner in which the exercise was carried out was a bit insensitive and it could have been done better.”
Calls to the municipal manager and mayor to request comment went unanswered.