Land grabs described as barbaric
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.
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.