Ez­i­be­leni land is­sue le­gal bat­tles go on

Po­lice ar­rest res­i­dents for sec­ond time


PEO­PLE oc­cu­py­ing land in Ez­i­be­leni were ar­rested for the sec­ond time over the week­end.

The group, which is at the cen­tre of a row with the Enoch Mgi­jima Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity over the il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of the land dubbed “The High­way”, were re­leased on Mon­day with­out ap­pear­ing in court.

S Modi At­tor­neys di­rec­tor Sithem­bele Modi, who is rep­re­sent­ing the group, con­firmed that an in­terim court or­der pro­hibit­ing the il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of the land was in place, with the group to re­turn to the high court in Gra­ham­stown on Oc­to­ber 19.

He said the mat­ter was sub ju­dice and could not be dis­cussed in de­tail.

Modi said it was, how­ever, be­lieved that peo­ple were be­ing un­nec­es­sar­ily vic­timised by the po­lice as the in­terim court or­der in­di­cated that it was not to evict the peo­ple who were al­ready oc­cu­pants, but to pre­vent those who were at­tempt­ing to oc­cupy.

He con­firmed that peo­ple ar­rested over the week­end had sub­se­quently been re­leased with­out go­ing to court.

“The po­lice are go­ing to find them­selves in a se­ri­ous le­gal bat­tle on this mat­ter, be­cause they are in­fring­ing on peo­ples’ rights to move­ment. They need to seek ad­vice from their le­gal sec­tion in terms of the or­der be­ing prop­erly in­ter­preted.”

High­way com­mit­tee mem­ber Phum­lani Ce­tyiwe said the group had re­ceived a call that peo­ple were al­legedly build­ing shacks on the land over the week­end.

“When we traced this, we found that th­ese peo­ple were not part of the com­mu­nity of High­way. We spoke to the Ez­i­be­leni sta­tion com­man­der to get clar­ity on why the peo­ple were ar­rested.

“He replied that they were in con­tempt of court and we asked whether they had been served the in­terim court or­der.

“We un­der­stand the court or­der and we do not want to be in con­tempt of court, so there is no build­ing hap­pen­ing.”

He said peo­ple who had lived on the land for a long time were among those ar­rested and res­i­dents were not sat­is­fied with the way they were be­ing treated by the po­lice.

Me­gan de Wet of Bowes McDougall In­cor­po­rated, act­ing on be­half of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, said the mat­ter was com­pli­cated.

“We brought an ap­pli­ca­tion to all the per­sons at­tempt­ing un­law­fully to oc­cupy the ap­pli­cants’ land in the Ez­i­be­leni area, which was ad­ver­tised in The Rep and the Daily Dis­patch on Au­gust 5, an­nounced on a loud hailer in Ez­i­be­leni and for­warded to the po­lice sta­tion as per the high court in­struc­tion.”

Ac­cord­ing to said or­der, peo­ple were not al­lowed to con­tinue oc­cu­py­ing, build­ing struc­tures on the prop­erty and/or set­tling upon any im­mov­able prop­erty be­long­ing to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity with­out its au­thor­ity and per­mis­sion.

The po­lice had not re­sponded by the time of go­ing to press.

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