Friday, April 24, 2009

squatters squatting again

Two hundred residents of a squatter community in the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn, South Africa have seized new homes in a government-sponsored development nearby, The Sowetan reports.

Residents assert that the government has ignored the official waiting list and has been taking cash payoffs and tribute (slagding--animals destined for slaughter) from people who want the homes.

Hester and Benjamin Olifant, who say they have been on the government's housing waiting list since 1991, are among the invaders. When they joined the list, their daughter Vanessa was four. She is 22 now and still shares a small room with her 17-year-old brother, Bennet.

Many of the squatters have been living in illegal backyard shacks, made from corrugated tin. They pay rent to the owners of the main house and even having to share bathrooms with the people they rent from. "We knew that if we were to get a house of our own we would have to just go and take it," Hester said.

The squatters say that when they opened some of these new concrete houses, they found sheep and donkeys inside.

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