Twelve families were left homeless after the City of Cape Town dismantled six illegal shacks in Mfuleni on Wednesday ahead of a looming storm

City spokesperson Hayley van der Woude told News24 on Thursday that even though the city empathised with the plight of landless residents, it would not allow the illegal invasion of land.

“Invaded land becomes a fire, flood and health-risk and it makes the provision of basic and emergency services almost impossible in some cases.”

Van der Woude said the structures were unoccupied at the time of their removal, but community members said 12 families lived in the informal structures.

Ann Dyasi, who is also from Mfuleni and who has been trying to help those who have been displaced, told News24 some of the families had nowhere to go.

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“They lost everything,” she said. “I have a family with a one-year-old baby who knocked on my door this afternoon. They are asking for help, they have no family nearby where they can go.”

Dyasi, 53, said the family slept under a piece of plastic on Wednesday night, but were forced to look for other accommodation when they heard about the approaching storm.

“I know them from church [and] I am asking everyone I know who can possibly help to help accommodate them. I cannot just leave them on the street.”

Dyasi, who has been living in the community for 15 years, said the city first removed the structures in May. The families, whose structures were removed, then built a communal structure for the affected families to sleep in, which was dismantled by the city in June following a major cold front, she said.

“The people then built the shacks again. What else does the city expect them to do? They have nowhere to go.”

On Thursday afternoon, the City of Cape Town warned residents of several severe weather conditions expected on Thursday evening and Friday morning.

There is a possibility of flooding in parts of Cape Town and the southern parts of the Cape Winelands early on Friday morning, the city said on Facebook.

Gale-force north-westerly winds of 60 to 75 km/h are expected.