Bonela res­i­dents live in fear

Vi­o­lent in­va­sions cause chaos in cos­mopoli­ton com­mu­nity area


RE­PEATED land in­va­sions in Bonela, which usu­ally turn vi­o­lent, has not only left res­i­dents liv­ing in fear but is also threat­en­ing the har­mo­nious re­la­tions in the area that has been forged over many years.

The lat­est vi­o­lent in­va­sion took place ear­lier this week when in­vaders at­tempted to claim a patch of land ear­marked as a play­ground for chil­dren on Blinkbon­nie Road.

Three se­cu­rity guards at the site were at­tacked. The mob hurled stones and other ob­jects at the guards and one of them was stabbed dur­ing the in­va­sion. The three men were treated in hos­pi­tal.

Si­fiso Jobe, the gen­eral man­ager of Vela Tech Se­cu­rity Ser­vices, the com­pany hired to guard the park, said the three guards had since been dis­charged from hos­pi­tal. “We have opened crim­i­nal charges.”

Fenc­ing around the park was de­stroyed and the mob threat­ened women who were near the park at the time.

Po­lice spokesper­son Lieu­tenant-colonel Thulani Zwane con­firmed a case of as­sault with in­tent to do griev­ous bod­ily harm was opened at Cato Manor po­lice sta­tion.

In­va­sions in Bonela be­gan in Au­gust 2017 and 23 in­for­mal homes were ini­tially con­structed. That num­ber has since swelled be­yond 300.

Res­i­dents said Bonela had be­come a tar­get be­cause of its close prox­im­ity to Dur­ban’s CBD.

A res­i­dent said their homes were per­pet­u­ally on lock­down be­cause they feared be­com­ing tar­gets of the in­vaders.

“My fam­ily and I de­cided it’s best to stay in­doors and mind our own busi­ness. We know the in­vaders can be­come rough, we know bet­ter than to try and stop them.

“We are pray­ing that the sit­u­a­tion can be han­dled bet­ter,” the res­i­dent said.

Ward 29 coun­cil­lor Mveli Mthembu said the in­vaders were “caus­ing havoc” and tar­geted peo­ple who op­posed their moves. “When I ap­proached them and spoke cor­dially with them about their ac­tions, they later set my of­fice alight, which was badly burnt and they burnt a build­ing at the nearby school.’’

Vi­nesh Moti­lal, chair­per­son of the lo­cal com­mu­nity polic­ing fo­rum, said greater po­lice pres­ence was needed to curb the in­va­sions.

“In a year, the num­ber of in­for­mal dwellings has risen to more than 300 shacks. Bonela has a long-stand­ing his­tory of good re­la­tions be­tween its In­dian and African res­i­dents in the com­mu­nity.

“We have since learnt that African mem­bers of our com­mu­nity are also scared to speak out against these in­vaders, fear­ing vic­tim­i­sa­tion,” said Moti­lal. FOUR monks, a Ti­betan herbal doc­tor and an astrologer have trav­elled from In­dia to cre­ate a Bud­dhist sand man­dala (spir­i­tual geo­met­ric de­sign) at the De­nis Hur­ley Cen­tre this week.

The event is a co-op­er­a­tive ini­tia­tive be­tween the Of­fice of Tibet, the De­nis Hur­ley Cen­tre and Tibet So­ci­ety of South Africa to of Tibet.

The monks will spend seven days cre­at­ing the in­tri­cate im­age. The colours are cre­ated with nat­u­rally coloured sand, gyp­sum, ochre, sand­stone and char­coal.

Vis­i­tors can cre­ate their own sand man­dalas at des­ig­nated sta­tions.

One of the monks, Geshe Lob­sang Dhondup, 38, from Kar­nataka, said the share the re­li­gion and cul­ture sand man­dala was more than just art.

“We fol­low strict rules when we cre­ate a sand man­dala. Af­ter work­ing on it for six to seven days, we dis­man­tle it in a cer­e­mony and place it in the ocean. This re­minds us that all art and beauty are not per­ma­nent,” he said.

The pub­lic can view the creation from to­mor­row un­til next Sun­day, 10am to 4pm.

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