Land grabs de­scribed as bar­baric

Sunday Tribune - - METRO - LUNGANI ZUNGU and SIBONISO MNGADI

MEM­BERS of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Mil­i­tary Veter­ans’ As­so­ci­a­tion (MKVA) in­vaded land in Illovo, south of Dur­ban, yes­ter­day.

An MK vet­eran and res­i­dent, Press Gwabini, who led the protest, said: “We have en­gaged all the struc­tures, in­clud­ing the chief of the area, and warned them that we would in­vade the land if no ac­tion was taken.

“We have con­trib­uted R500 each to get this area cleared. Other peo­ple who are not MK vets will also ben­e­fit, be­cause we be­lieve the land be­longs to us and must be ex­pro­pri­ated quickly.”

Gwabini said they were grab­bing land be­cause the gov­ern­ment was drag­ging its feet in im­ple­ment­ing the ANC res­o­lu­tion in De­cem­ber to ex­pro­pri­ate land with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

Gwabini said they started clear­ing bush from Thurs­day.

Yes­ter­day, when the Sun­day Tri­bune vis­ited the site, hun­dreds of com­mu­nity mem­bers gath­ered on the site, which they had cleared.

They reg­is­tered their names on a list of would-be own­ers of the land.

No gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials were present, but the po­lice ar­rived to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion. They left shortly af­ter­wards.

Ward coun­cil­lor An­dré Beetge said of­fi­cials from the Dube Trade Port, which owned the land, were on the site re­cently.

Mean­while, on Fri­day night three mu­nic­i­pal cars were torched and two dam­aged, al­legedly by land in­vaders in Cato Crest, west of Dur­ban.

A group of res­i­dents al­legedly stormed mu­nic­i­pal of­fices in the area and started van­dal­is­ing the build­ing and burn­ing cars.

They threat­ened to burn down a lo­cal clinic, ac­cord­ing to ward coun­cil­lor, Mzi Ngiba.

“It de­fies logic that when peo­ple are blocked from il­le­gally oc­cu­py­ing the land, they re­sort to van­dal­is­ing in­sti­tu­tions that ben­e­fit them,” said Ngiba. He said he planned to meet with res­i­dents to dis­suade them from van­dal­is­ing prop­erty.

“We re­ally can­not live like this. But we know that the peo­ple who are be­hind this are not from the area. They come here and in­sti­gate this kind of chaos,” he said.

Ngiba said the land tar­geted by the in­vaders was ear­marked for a hous­ing project that would ben­e­fit the com­mu­nity.

Mthunzi Gumede, spokesper­son for ethek­wini mayor Zandile Gumede, de­scribed the land grabs as “bar­baric”. He said in Illovo, the land in­vaders were threat­en­ing in­vestors, as the city had iden­ti­fied the area as a po­ten­tial eco­nomic devel­op­ment zone that would cre­ate job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The South Coast area is ear­marked for ma­jor devel­op­ment, such as the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try, which will cre­ate busi­ness and job op­por­tu­ni­ties. Such oc­cur­rences will jeop­ar­dise all the plans.”

Com­ment­ing on the in­ci­dent in Cato Crest, Gumede said: “Dam­ag­ing of mu­nic­i­pal prop­erty will not be tol­er­ated. It holds the city back and it is equiv­a­lent to (be­ing) counter-revo­lu­tion­ary.

“The city (coun­cil) is work­ing on a plan which we will not dis­close at this stage,” Gumede said.

SAPS spokesper­son Thulani Zwane said nine sus­pects were ar­rested for pub­lic vi­o­lence and ar­son and were sched­uled to ap­pear in court to­mor­row in con­nec­tion with the Cato Crest in­va­sion.

| NQOBILE MBONAMBI African News Agency(ana)

LAND in­vaders, who said they were umkhonto we Sizwe veter­ans, in Illovo, south of Dur­ban, along­side the R603 yes­ter­day. One of the veter­ans said they were grab­bing land be­cause the gov­ern­ment was stalling on ex­pro­pri­at­ing it.

MU­NIC­I­PAL cars were torched on Fri­day night by land in­vaders in Cato Crest.

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