The Mercury

Council destroys woman’s dream

- Gugu Mbonambi

A DURBAN pensioner is reeling after officials from the eThekwini municipali­ty demolished her home – which had cost her more than R200 000 to build over a twoyear period.

Zukiswa Young, 66, a retired nurse from Mariannrid­ge, Durban, received a call from her son on Thursday evening, notifying her that her house, which was still under constructi­on, had been destroyed without any notice being given.

“What hurts the most and causes me to have sleepless nights is that I was not given an eviction letter. I do not have money to rebuild my house because I live from hand to mouth,” she said teary eyed, as she gazed at the debris of what was to have been her eight-room house.

Young said she had been given a tract of land at eMngcweni, Cato Ridge, in 2004 by Bonokwakhe Mzolo, the righthand man of the local chief, Simingaye Mlaba.

But she had only started building her house in 2008, owing to financial constraint­s.

“I live in Mariannrid­ge with my three unemployed children and seven grandchild­ren. I’m a pensioner and the sole breadwinne­r. I can no longer afford to pay rates, electricit­y and water bills; that is the reason I wanted to relocate to a rural area, where the cost of living is not so high,” she said.

Young said she had put her house in Mariannrid­ge up for sale and, once it was sold, she had planned to finish her house in Cato Ridge, which required only a roof to be complete, and invest the rest.

Neighbours said they stood and watched helplessly as municipal officials, who arrived in vehicles marked “Protection Services”, demolished Young’s house.

“I have never seen such cruelty in my life. I stood and watched helplessly as over 20 men demolished Mrs Young’s house. I just stood there crying. Two other houses (which The Mercury has establishe­d also did not have roofs) were demolished months earlier.

“We are all living in fear because we are wondering whose house will be torn down next,” said one neighbour, who would not be named.

Mzolo, 81, who has lived in eMngcweni since 1982, said this was not a case of land invasion, because he understood that the land belonged to Mlaba.

“I gave land to several families and they paid a fee of about R120 for the paperwork. I have the necessary receipts, files and records of each family that had been given land at eMngcweni. I don’t know why the municipali­ty is claiming that the land belongs to them,” he said.

Ward councillor Dennis Shozi said residents believed that the land belonged to Mlaba, but they had in fact built on council-owned land.

“I have reported the matter to the municipali­ty’s housing unit, because municipal officials came to my ward and demolished houses without notifying me. This is not a landgrab scenario, because the people in eMngcweni have been living in the area for years and the council is aware of that,” he said.

Shozi said he had tried to stop the men from destroying Young’s house, but a man, who he said had covered his face, had ordered the people he was with to demolish the house.

Harvey Mzimela, of the municipali­ty’s protection services and land invasion control unit, said in an e-mail that he was aware of the incident, but “I do not have powers to answer or respond to the media”.

 ?? PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE ?? Durban pensioner Zukiswa Young, 66, looks at the remains of her home in Cato Ridge, which was demolished by eThekwini municipali­ty officials on Thursday.
PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE Durban pensioner Zukiswa Young, 66, looks at the remains of her home in Cato Ridge, which was demolished by eThekwini municipali­ty officials on Thursday.

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