"We are treated like animals," claims Nadjima. Since the end of 2022 and the announcement by the town hall of Koungou (north-east of Grande-Terre) and the prefecture of Mayotte of their intention to destroy the district called "Talus 2", this is now the leitmotif of some 500 inhabitants of the site. “They want to destroy our homes but it is also our lives that they are destroying”, continues the mother of the family, installed on this side of the rock for twenty years, and who like all the inhabitants prefers to be called by her name. usual than to give his official surname.
All have been settled in Majikavo for at least 20 years. The oldest, like Daoud, bacoco (grandpa in shimaoré) always wearing his koffiah, settled on this land 32 years ago. "All my children were born here," he explains, embarrassed by broken French. At his side, a young woman holds her baby firmly. He too was born here, like her before him.
Whether they are Mahorais or Comorians in a regular situation with French children, Daoud, Fatima, Nadjima or even Mohamed have a common history: they settled very poor on this then deserted land, built their "bangas" wooden dwellings there. and corrugated sheets, then their lives: duck breeder, small restaurateur, electrician or freight forwarder.
"This is what allowed us to get out of poverty, today, several of our children are in mainland France to study, we fought for that", proudly explain Mohammed and Fatima.
Several families have decided to challenge the decision of the prefecture, represented by lawyer Marjane Ghaem, which denounces "systematic maneuvers aimed at destroying at all costs in defiance of the law". They await the decision of the administrative judge.
To justify the "decasing", the Prefecture highlights the unsanitary housing, the dangerousness of the site, the presence of foreigners in an irregular situation and young delinquents.
So many elements disputed by the inhabitants, who do not pay any rent. "For 30 years that we have been here, we have taken all the steps to have our situation regularized with the Department and the town hall. We have been connected to water and electricity, we have been provided with addresses and now we are told that we have to get out," insisted Fatima.
A number of administrative documents attest to this, as well as the mailboxes and meters installed as best they could on the rocky terrain. A minerality that leads the various administrative services to now consider the site as dangerous, while justifying the destruction of the district to build again.
"If they say that there are foreigners and delinquents, they come to see. Here we are all mixed, there are all origins but also a lot of Mahorais. And we raise our children well", disputes Najima.
According to the Elan law, the prefecture has an obligation to offer "adapted housing" to inhabitants whose houses have been destroyed. But social services have never given the location and duration of the rehousing offered.
"We cannot accept without knowing where we are going or how long, if we leave this neighborhood we lose everything and the children will be out of school, it's dramatic", continues Nadjima. "They say they will rebuild afterwards and that we will have priority, but we have no guarantee, first we build, then we destroy, that's how it should be. If they had proposed that, we would have immediately accepted”, she explains.
A matter of dignity
This is also how the relocation took place in the relatively comfortable houses of their neighbours. However, this operation, which dates back several years, was not carried out on the basis of the Elan law. Since its implementation on the territory, nearly 9.000 people have seen their homes destroyed, without it being possible to find any trace of residents who have been permanently rehoused.
According to the prefecture, there would be a firm relocation offer. A few hundred meters from the shantytown are indeed stacked prefabs: a sanitary space for women, another for men, an impracticable communal kitchen. Five families should be accommodated there, against rent, without being able to bring their personal belongings there.
"Is that dignity? How can they believe that we would want to live in these containers", denounce in chorus the inhabitants on a plot of the slum. "They say that our accommodation is unworthy and we are offered that, paying more, it's really contempt", continues Mohamed. I hope that justice will want to listen to us. At the very least, we want respect."