The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said on Sunday that they were investigating the evictions in Lwandle in the Western Cape.
“The SAHRC is concerned about the manner in which the evictions were executed, with the delay in providing shelter,” the organisation’s spokesperson Isaac Mangena said in a statement. He said there had also been a failure to plan adequately to provide alternative accommodation. Around 846 families living on South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) land next to the N2 highway in Lwandle were evicted on Monday and Tuesday because of an interim court order.
Their shacks were demolished and set alight. Many lost their personal possessions and were left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.
“The SAHRC condemns the excessive use of force by the police and security personnel against the residents, especially women and children during these evictions.”
Mangena said the commission was also concerned with the manner in which the interdict was enforced. Sanral, the owner of the land, was granted an eviction order by the high court in Cape Town earlier this year.
“The SAHRC … will engage with all parties in order to obtain all relevant information to inform its investigation in this matter.”
The commission also called on local and national government structures to urgently find alternative accommodation – with sufficient access to water and sanitation – for those evicted. The commission said it was “encouraged” by the intervention of the Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
On Thursday, Sisulu announced the establishment of an inquiry into the removals. The families had been accommodated and provided with food at the Nomzamo community hall in Strand. Sanral has subsequently offered to move the residents to a piece of land it owned as a more permanent solution.
The commission called on the transport department to suspend all evictions until a suitable solution was found. – Sapa