“Where are we supposed to study for exams if we’ve been evicted?” asked learners from Lwandle at a protest outside the Cape Town provincial legislature last night.
Around 50 students, known as the Equalisers braved the winter cold to meet outside St George’s Cathedral and stand in solidarity with the residents of the informal settlement in Strand who were evicted from their homes on Monday.
The eviction was the enforcement of a Western Cape high court order granted earlier this year to the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) and was carried out by the SAPS (South African Police Services).
“We have exams soon, where are we supposed to study,? said the learners, most of them in high school. They just kicked us out,” said Nonkozana Khumalo of Strand High School.
Khumalo is currently in matric and is worried about completing the rest of the school year, as she and her family are now homeless.
“My studies are the most important thing to me, I can’t focus if I don’t have a bed to sleep in, a roof over my head and food in my stomach,” said Leonard Moagi, also in matric.
He watched as members of the SAPS dismantled his home and tossed his family’s belongings out onto the street.
The learners though remained in high spirits and were supported by learners from other high schools in the Cape Town area. Songs of protest filled the entrance to the provincial legislature building, as the group waited for government officials to emerge and address the crowd.
SANRAL is claiming that the settlement is blocking an upcoming development to the N2 highway, while the City of Cape Town maintains its stance that it is not involved with the demolition.
Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters is being asked by Equal Education, an organisation that campaigns for equality and quality in education, to explain why people were evicted without alternative accommodation. Media reports indicate that while the minister has apologised for the demolitions, she has appealed to the evicted residents to work with government and to “adhere to the decisions we made.”
SANRAL is an independent company owned by the government and is overseen by the transport ministry.
Equal Education is facilitating a collection of humanitarian aid for the evicted families and individuals.
The Equalisers were joined by leadership and other members of Equal Education, the Social Justice Coalition, the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum and Ndifuna Ukwazi.