South Africa: Land Seizures, Combative Defense Against Police Repression

By Nélida Tello

For the past month, hundreds of people in the shantytowns of Cape Town have seized and occupied over 20 empty plots of land, city buildings and community facilities, combatively defending their conquests against police raids. More than 5,000 dwellings have been built on the seized land, many of which police forces have targeted and destroyed.

The people have built barricades, burned buildings, and thrown stones at city cars defending against police repression and arrests. The South African Police Service and the South African Defense Force alongside local police have been deployed throughout the city to repress the hundreds of people taking back land.

The working class of Cape Town face a dual attack from landlords and city officials, many being illegally evicted from their homes during the coronavirus pandemic as city officials have increased police operations to repress land occupations.

Police forces have been so overwhelmed by the quantity of land seizures that they are unable to keep up and have required reinforcements, such as in Mfuleni, Khayelitsha, Wallacedene, Delft, Dunoon, Milnerton, and Nyanga.

The current economic crisis has worsened the conditions in South Africa, pushing the poorest residents to fight back to secure land and food in order to survive.