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.