Dalton Road shacks destroyed in city clean up operation
For 6 years, the Denis Hurley Centre has been working closely with the Dalton Road community to uplift lives, providing health and child care through a container clinic and pre-school. The community is very poor and comprises up to 200 people living outside in the mud and 400 or so living in shacks inside the old Beer Hall.
Over the years, DHC team members have built a relationship with the Municipality’s SDB (South Durban Basin Area Management), which helped set up the containers for the clinic and the crèche and installed ablution blocks for residents. There is still an on-going problem with sewerage, rain water and waste management, and the DHC team had been invited to help mobilise the community in February for a clean-up campaign. Sadly another part of the Municipality decided to conduct a very different kind of ‘clean up’!
They sent in in 30 officials and Metro Police with three trucks. They smashed people’s shacks and threw their meagre belongings into a waste truck. We estimate that 100 people lost belongings, including IDs and medicines. This is especially troubling when a key part of our role is to keep people who have TB and HIV healthy.
One resident, Wendy Magwaza said that, though this was not much, it had been her home for 8 years. Ryan van Rensburg, another resident explained that, had some notice been given, then he could at least have saved his belongings. But there was no notice and no explanation of the reason for the intervention.
Interestingly, similar incidents in Johannesburg and Pretoria (in 2018 and 2019) led to legal cases being brought against those Municipalities for failing to notify the residents in advance of the action that was being taken. The courts have taken a view that, even if there is a positive desired outcome, Government cannot take action against citizens which denies their human dignity.
Earlier last year, some senior police officials told us that they had begun to view the homeless differently and understand their situation a bit more. Sadly, there was no sign of compassion or care in this latest incident at Dalton.
For more information on this and other DHC projects, please visit http://www.denishurleycentre.org/
[reprinted from an article that appeared in the Denis Hurley Centre newsletter, dated 24 February 2021]