Settlers shot in eviction
Council demolishes homes in Mason’s Mill settlement
RESIDENTS of the Mason’s Mill informal settlement outside Imbali are fuming after members of the Msunduzi Anti-Land Invasion Unit fired live bullets at them yesterday.
“They came in vans and before we knew it they were demolishing our houses. Our only sin was to ask them to produce an eviction order. They responded by opening fire at us,” said resident Sipho Dlamini.
While Dlamini was not hurt, Mbothweni Zuma (67) was not so lucky. He is in a serious condition at Edendale Hospital after he was struck on the thigh by a bullet.
Zuma’s brother, Shiya, said: “He was at home when he heard people whose houses were being demolished screaming. He then went to check what was happening but was shot by a municipal security guard after he asked the demolishers to stop.”
According to Shiya, Mbothweni, who sustained a gunshot wound on the thigh, was bleeding heavily when neighbours took him to hospital in a private vehicle.
“The bullet exited on the inside part of his thigh and grazed his private parts. Doctors told us that one of his veins was badly damaged.
“He is a senior citizen whom the government was supposed to treat with respect. It is disappointing to find our own government treating citizens like savages,” said the brother.
When The Witness arrived at the scene, Mbothweni’s bloodied shoes were still lying on the ground.
Mbothweni, along with several of his neighbours, moved into the Mason’s Mill informal settlement in 1995 after his Slangspruit home had been damaged by devastating storms that hit parts of Pietermaritzburg in 1995.
Mandla Mkhize, another resident, said: “The municipality brought us here after the storms left us destitute. We find it incredible that the very same municipality is now kicking us out the area without even bothering to assist us to find alternative accommodation.”
The municipality previously tried to evict the residents but failed when they took the council to court.
“We don’t understand why the municipality has resolved to act outside the law as the courts have not yet ruled on our court application to interdict the council from harassing us,” Mkhize said.
Sources within the informal settlement said the council started evicting people after the influx of new settlers in recent years.
“This man who was shot is one of the first people who moved into the area in 1995. Even though the municipality is yet to give them title deeds, they are registered.
“The problem is the newcomers who keep on building new structures. These are the people whom the municipality is evicting,” said a resident who did not want to be named for security reasons.
Msunduzi spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo said the municipality had an eviction order which covered a number of properties.
She said the matter that was in court was separate from yesterday’s eviction and she could not comment further on it.
“The anti-land invasion unit had warned these residents against the illegal invasion on a number of occasions and they were ignored. We have received information that there is a member of a state security agency who is perpetuating this illegal act of land invasion and we are attending to that.”
Ngcobo added that a law enforcement official was attacked by the invaders yesterday.
“He is receiving medical assistance and a case has been opened.”
By late yesterday, owners of the demolished structures were already rebuilding them.
“I have nowhere else to go,” said Samkeliso Shezi, who moved into the area in 2016.
Police confirmed that a criminal case was opened at Alexandra Road police station following yesterday’s shooting.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said the municipal security guards gave police a different version to that of the residents.
Mbhele said one of the security guards, who was part of the team demolishing the houses, has opened an assault case against the residents. “He alleges that the community members attacked them, injuring him with a bush knife.”
“The municipality brought us here after the storms left us destitute. We find it incredible that the very same municipality is now kicking us out the area without even bothering to assist us to find alternative accommodation. — resident Mandla Mkhize
Shiya Zuma, brother to Mbothweni Zuma who was shot by Msunduzi guards during a demolition in the area, stands in front of one of the destroyed houses.