01 August 2014

Family torn apart during Lwandle demolitions

During demolitions on Sanral-owned land in Lwandle, Cape Town, a mother was separated from her son and traumatised by police action.


A mother of four cried on Thursday as she recalled how she was separated from her son during demolitions on Sanral-owned land in Lwandle, Cape Town, last month.

Nonhlanhla Lujabe had sent one of her seven-year-old twins, a boy, to a local shop on the morning of June 3, while she got herself and other children ready for the day.

Chaotic situation

She heard a loud bang and when she looked outside, saw structures being torn down like they had been the previous day.

"When I looked around [outside], I saw there is my son crying with the haversack on his back. The police wouldn't allow him to come back," she told an inquiry investigating the removals from SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) land.

Read more: SA police need counselling

"I saw all the people are running in different areas and it was a whole chaotic situation."

She looked back into her shack and saw one of her children standing on the bed crying.

She felt like she was suffocating and realised teargas had filtered into the structure.

"I took the one twin and put the child on my back and ran out the structure. I was running around looking for my other child and looking into the neighbour's house. Their television was playing but no one was inside the house."

Painful experience

Lujabe struggled to hold back the tears when she explained how everyone was running and she could not find her son or friends.

"The painful experience... that day is still visible in my mind."

She said the police shoved and pulled her while her child was still on her back.

She pleaded with them to allow her to remove her brand new wardrobe before they tore down her shack. They refused to listen and demolished it in front of her.

Read: Most SA kids exposed to trauma

The single mother and her family had to wear the same clothes for a week.

On the night of June 3, she and other evicted shack-dwellers lit a big fire for warmth and slept outside the Nomzamo community hall because they could not get the keys.

Although hearings with residents were now complete, the inquiry would continue to take their statements.

Members of the police were expected to testify next.

Read more:

Children and trauma: How to help
Hard times make mothers harsher
A shot of cortisone can prevent PTSD

Image: House being demolished by Shutterstock





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