Two weeks ago the West Bank was invaded – literally –  by the Metro Police who came  with  Approx. 20 vehicles of all kinds, two deep bedded trucks and a front end loader/bulldozer. This show of force was just a bigger more intimidating variation of the regular and numerous raids that have taken place on the bank for years.

They literally bulldozed their way over the stream and onto the bank, now awash JMPD men and women. When I got there they were busy clearing piles of plastic torn from the squatter shelters as well as other refuse with a grabber truck while the front end loader was scooping up the entire possessions of the squatters and dumping it into the trucks.  Clothes, blankets, food, pots and various papers such as ID’s, Passports if they were there.  NOTHING was left for that person when he came back from work.

Those left to watch over their things stood in stunned silence watching. There were no incidents, in fact it was quite orderly in a way with me and numerous JMPD members and a mystery man dressed in black with a stun torch and who knows what else in his jacket.  As the trucks drove away with all the possessions there was a heated exchange. To be expected under the circumstances.

Over the years the squatters have had their goods taken, burnt,  and destroyed all with the supposition that they will just not be there the next day or disappear like magic in a puff of smoke. This IS NOT THE SOLUTION and those who think it is just never learn.  They have been on that bank, some for 10 years and they will keep coming back as they have done over the years and are there again as I write.

The night of the raid was 5deg. One of the coldest this winter =. One can only imagine what they went through.   This was a case of NIMBYism at its best while Sandtonites snuggled down in their warm beds.

There is not one single shelter in Sandton and frankly, the Council just does not know what to do and this show of force tactic is testament to that.

The raids were prompted by the squatters on George Lea Park N as they are painfully on show to drivers on Sandton Drive.  Where there is vacant unkempt land it is an invitation for a homeless person.  This land was a neglected, overgrown portion of George Lea and NOT the Park that the JMPD spokesperson said was a place “to relax in and be with nature”.  She has clearly not even seen the place.

The scenario will repeat itself over and over until someone realizes that this kind of action is NOT the answer to a sad situation of desperate homeless trying to survive. Our open spaces and rivers particularly will be targeted still. There are already complaints of squatters along the Sandspruit. The problem has merely moved somewhere  else!