Media: Backyard dwellers livid after MEC’s ‘no-show’

16 09 2008

Note: The new MEC had promised after last Saturday’s march to come to our mass meeting. The place was full and residents were angry and upset that he wasted their time and that he is not willing to engage with residents.

By Natasha Prince
September 15 2008 at 07:57PM
Source: Cape Argus

Gugulethu backyard dwellers have given newly-appointed Housing MEC Whitey Jacobs seven more days to determine what will be done about their housing situation, after attempts to protest outside his home were thwarted by police.

The residents, who host weekly meetings at a local community sports hall, issued the ultimatum after they were prevented from marching on Jacobs’s house in Malunga Park near the Gugulethu police station on Sunday when he allegedly failed to arrive for a meeting they had called. Read the rest of this entry »

Guguletu AEC marched today on Helen Zille’s office

9 09 2008

September 9, 2008
Gugulethu AEC Press Statement

CAPE TOWN - The Gugulethu Anti-Eviction Campaign marched on Helen Zille’s office at noon today.

We are angered that backyard dwellers in Gugulethu continue to live in overcrowded, inhumane conditions. Despite the fact that we have carried out an exhaustive audit of Gugulethu backyard residents who have been on the waiting list for housing for more than 20 years, we have yet to be offered housing.

We live in backyards, with up to 8 families in one backyard. We always get flooded out every time it rains but the city and province do not provide us with any relief because they seem to see us as private tenants.

We are demanding the same food parcels, blankets and building materials that are supplied to residents in informal settlements.

We also want back the building materials that the metro police stole from us on the weekend. This was when we identified an empty piece of land and tried to move on to it. We have every right to do this because the government has failed for 20 years to provide us with houses.

for more information contact Mncedisi Twalo on

Rubbish dumped in MEC’s garden

8 09 2008
By Aziz Hartley
September 08 2008 at 10:39AM
Source: Cape Times

Housing MEC Whitey Jacobs faced the ire of some Gugulethu, Nyanga and Langa backyard dwellers who marched to his house in Gugulethu and dumped their refuse in his garden.

The backyarders kept a promise they made in August when they invaded a piece of land off Lansdowne Road on Saturday, but Metro Police arrived and blocked their progress.

Incensed, the 300 people walked a kilometre to Jacobs’s house, emptied rubbish bins in his garden and demanded he address their housing concerns.

“People decided to go to the MEC’s house in Malunga Park near the Gugulethu police station. We collected rubbish bins on the way and waited for the MEC as we wanted to show him we mean business. He came with bodyguards and lots of police. He appeared upset when we told him how long people waited for houses,” said Mncedisi Twalo, Gugulethu chairperson of the Anti-eviction Campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

Pictures and Video: Backyard dwellers march on MEC’s home

8 09 2008

Backyard Dwellers of Gugulethu, Nyanga, New Crossroads and Langa occupy empty land just of Landsdowne Rd in Gugulethu

6 09 2008

Update on this weekend’s attempted land occupation:

While attempting to occupy vacant land in Gugulethu (see original statement below), residents were interrupted by over 50 police officers who, at gun point, illegally stole residents’ building materials and threatened to attack residents if they resisted.  Angry about the situation, residents decided to march on Housing MEC Whitey Jacob’s home in the upscale Malunga Park area of Gugulethu.

In order to get the attention of Jacobs who, like his predecessor, has not been listening to the grievances of Cape Town’s poor, residents decided to clean up the trash from a near-by informal settlement and place it in front of the MEC’s home.  After Jacob’s arrived in his brand-new volvo SUV with his body-guard and four police vehicles at his side, he was presented with this attached memorandum.

Once Jacobs agreed to engage with residents at their weekly meetings, residents decided to clean up all the trash as a good-will gesture.  But angry residents warned the MEC that if he continues with the anti-poor policies and the authoritarian approach of his predecessor, more mass action will take place.

For your interest, here are some pictures of the march and peaceful protest at the MEC’s home and a short video with some Toyi-Toying.


On a more humorous note:

The MEC asked the Gugulethu Anti-Eviction Campaign for the physical address of the Gugulethu branch of movement.  Residents replied that the address is the Gugulethu Sports Complex where they hold their weekly mass meetings.  Confused, the MEC replied that as an organisation, the AEC must have an office of some kind.  But residnets were adamant: We are not an organisation, we are a social movement.  We exist only because residents attend our actions. We don’t have an office. Our meeting places is the Sports Complex, and if you want to correspond with us, you must come to our mass meetings held there every Sunday.  Because the MEC has no understanding of working with the people instead of on their behalf, he is oblivious on how to engage with residents of Gugulethu.  Hopefully, at our meeting next sunday, we can teach him a thing or two about democracy.


Gugulethu Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
Saturday September 6, 2008 at 12:30

Gugulethu – After attempting to highlight pervasive corruption in the allocation of housing by occupying empty flats in a Langa housing development last month, Backyard Dwellers are now taking action against the City and the Province by occupying empty land in Gugulethu.

While all different levels of government continue to refuse to allocate well-located land to shackdwellers, backyarders and other poor people, government officials see no problem releasing land for new Shoprite developments, malls, golf-courses, and other big-business oriented “urban renewal projects”. Officials continue to claim that there is no open land in Cape Town. Yet this city has one of the highest rates of urban sprawl and has more open land than most big cities in the Global South.

Even though the South African government doesn’t seem to understand this hypocrisy, backyard dwellers (some of whom have been on the waiting list for over 20 years) no longer have the patience stay cramped up in peoples backyards any longer. This is why Anti-Eviction Backyard Dwellers from Gugulethu, Nyanga, New Crossroads and Langa have decided to take matters into their own hands.

The AEC Backyard Dwellers are currently setting up their new informal homes in Gugulethu just off of Landsdowne Rd. The ELF# for the piece of land is RR448. Press and well-wishers are invited to come to the scene immediately to support the residents in their action to secure a livelihood for themselves and their families.

The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign would also like to use this action to welcome Mr Whitey Jacobs, the MEC for Housing in the Western Province, to his new job. We hope that he will have the political courage and humility to listen to the words of Cape Town’s poor and oppressed rather than follow the demands of his bosses and the private sector.

The poor must claim their right to drive the so-called Peoples Housing Process.

Power to the poor people!

For more information and for directions, please contact Mncedisi Twalo at

Housing protesters tell of ‘horror’ attack

4 08 2008
Aziz Hartley
August 04 2008 at 07:29AM
Source: Cape Times

Gugulethu backyard dwellers who tried to occupy unfinished flats in Langa at the weekend, on Sunday told of the “horror” they experienced when people armed with knobkieries and bricks launched a violent attack on them.

Saturday’s occupation, led by the Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC,) was meant to be peaceful and to protest against the long wait for housing, but yesterday a number of its supporters told how the vicious attack left them with bruised limbs, fractured ribs and head injuries. Read the rest of this entry »

Dozens of residents injured in Langa today

4 08 2008
AEC  Press Update
2 August 2008 at 4:30pm

The backyarders did manage to occupy unoccupied flats in Langa. The first preference was given to elderly people. These people were already inside their new homes.

But then suddenly a small group of people from a nearby informal settlement attacked. We said “we are all together in the same situation of not having houses. We are not enemies”. The backyarders did not fight back and suffered serious injuries. One resident is seriously injured in Somerset hospital. Others have been taken to Guguletu and Vanguard hospitals. Journalists were also injured and were taken to hospital.

One elderly woman was lying on the ground and a lot of men were beating her. We have photos of this.

People risked their lives to get houses today. This will go down in history. Backyarders plight has been ignored for so long and this is the result. We blame the government for the injuries that we incurred today. They have failed dismally to deliver houses and shack dwellers across the country are getting desperate for a better life.

Tomorrow there is a mass meeting at Guguletu Sports Complex at 2pm to discuss the way forward.

For comment please call

250 backyard residents from Langa, Nyanga and Guguletu to occupy empty flats

2 08 2008
Saturday 2 August 2008 at 9:30am
GUGULETU, CAPE TOWN - About 250 backyard residents from Langa, Nyanga and Guguletu are going to occupy some empty flats at 10:30am today.
The flats are the yellow flats behind Joe Slovo camp in Langa.
The residents have experienced floods every year but have never been catered for because they are the backyarders. The residents have been waiting for up to 40 years for house. Residents feel that now it is their turn to receive houses.
Many of today’s group are pensioners and even people of up to 80 years of age. They are embarking on a peaceful occupation and hope there will be no violence from the SAPS. If there is, the AEC will not hesitate to sue the Minister of Safety and Security for damages. We are going to be documenting the police action very carefully today.
“Today is the turn of those pensioners who never received houses, to get theirs” said a community spokesperson.
For more information from the scene call