Set­tlers shot in evic­tion

Coun­cil de­mol­ishes homes in Ma­son’s Mill set­tle­ment

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - CLIVE NDOU • clive.ndou@wit­ness.co.za

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

PHOTO: CLIVE NDOU

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.

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