In 2009 Siyanda residents near KwaMashu were evicted by the Dept. of Transport and relocated from their shacks into Transit camps so they could build the road which is known as Dumisani Makhaye (R577). The residents contested the eviction in the streets and in the courts but an eviction order was granted by the Durban High Court and the residents were evicted and relocated on 17 March 2009. However the court order that was given stated that all basic services should be provided in the transit camps and that the residents should all be moved to formal houses within 12 months. Water, electricity and sanitation were not provided and the residents are still rotting in the transit camp. The municipality has simply ignored the court order. Moreover for the past 3 years their children have suffered the pain of walking a long distance to their schools because of the relocation.
The Siyanda transit camp is one of the hundreds of transit camps people that have been built in recent years. People are dumped in these camps and then neglected. Usually the conditions are much worse than in shack settlements. However the government likes transit camps because it can use them to dump people where it wants them to be and because it can take control over the allocation of housing. Forcing people into transit camps is a way for government to enforce it’s control over the allocation of land and to break independent organisation. Sometimes only party members get a government shack in a transit camp and they are often controlled by the police rather than democratic structures. The eThekwini municipality has claimed that transit camps, which are government shacks, count as formal housing and as the realisastion of the right to adequate housing. This is a disgrace and an insult tonthe intelligecne and dignity of the poor and it needs to come to an end.
On 14 October 2009 Abahlali baseMjondolo took the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government to the Constitutional court to fight against the section 16 of the Slums Act in order to prevent forced relocation to transit camps. We won this case and the government has now abandoned its attempt to ‘eradicate’ shacks by 2014. In Durban the Municipality has also agreed to start providing basic services to shacks, including electricity. However the struggle against transit camps continues.
Siyanda residents together with Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement S.A have taken a decision to take the eThekwini Municipality to court for failing to comply with the court order and also failing to house the residents as agreed upon. Abahlali baseMjondolo does not only stand for the Siyanda residents but we stand against all of the rest of the transit camps in South Africa. Transit camps are not ‘adequate’ or ‘formal’ housing. They are an abomination. They are places where people that do not count to this society are dumped.
This court case will take place in Durban High Court on the 17 September 2012 at 09:00 a.m.
For more information please contact:
Mrs. Nxumalo: 076 333 9386 (Siyanda Transit Camp)
Bandile Mdlalose: 071 424 2815 (ABM General Secretary)
ABM office: 031 304 6420