Land invaders lit fires in the land around Mary Thipe Road.
ETHKWINI Mayor Zandile Gumede said allegations that some councillors were encouraging land invasions across the city were being taken seriously and if found to be true, the councillors would be dealt with.
Gumede was speaking at an Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday, 19 February.
She raised concerns that the incidents of land invasion had increased dramatically and urged all ward councillors to be accessible to their community if land invasion is taking place, in order to deal with it effectively. Gumede believes the incidents are politically motivated.
Her warning comes in the wake of a deliberate largescale land invasions in Mary Thipe Road Manor Gardens, which started on Monday.
Janus Horn, chairman of Mayville SPS CPF Sector 1B in Manor Gardens said taxis had dropped off people in the area, armed with spades, pangas and bush knives on Monday morning.
“They came from all directions. It was like everyone had to stake a claim on where they wanted to build a house. There was loads of fighting and fires were lit in an attempt to get rid of vegetation. Cars pulled up onto the pavement and people started marking spots. Metro was initially on scene telling people not to mark plots on the roadside but when they left it was a free for all,” he said.
Horn said he had spoken to the Deputy Mayor, Metro Police, SAPS and the Land Invasion with no success. He also queried why Metro Public Order Police had not responded to the scene.
“Residents are living in fear for their lives. There is continuous smoke from burning trees and gun shots from people celebrating this victory. This needs to be stopped now! I understand that people need housing but it needs to be done in a structured way,” he said.
ALSO READ: Manor Gardens violent protests lead to calls for 24-hour security
Earlier this month, Horn alerted Berea Mail to violent protests in Mary Thipe Road. Protestors had blocked the road with rubble and burning tyres and resorted to destroying water and electrical meters. He had called for 24-hour policing on the road. “We have asked for 24-hour Metro Police presence and we were told it is not an option. What do we as residents do? Mayville SAPS and Cato Manor SAPS only have one vehicle working at night We trust that the Deputy Mayor’s office and Metro Police together with the Land Invasion unit, will address our concerns regarding this unlawful land invasion,” he said.
People were dropped off taxis near Mary Thipe Road.
She said in some cases private property and not municipal land was being invaded, but the City would intervene regardless.
“I urge all councillors to assist residents regarding incidents of land invasion. This issue of land invasion is escalating. There are also allegations that there are some councillors encouraging people to claim land. We are taking these allegations seriously and will deal with those councillors who are found to have encouraged land invasion,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer encouraged the community to remain vigilant and report land invasion incidents to the relevant law enforcement agencies. To report incidents, the City has a dedicated telephone number the public must call which is manned 24/7. The number is 031 311 4699.
“The City’s Land Invasion Unit has its hands full in its endeavour to clamp down on this illicit behaviour. In 2018, the Unit responded to 95 complaints in October, 97 in November 2018 and 43 in December. To date, the City allocates millions every financial year for this unit to discharge its duties religiously. Had it not been for these worrying incidents, this revenue would have been used to carry out other service delivery programmes,” said Peer.
Gumede said she would be raising the issue at an Executive Committee meeting. She urged land invaders to follow proper processes to get housing while also urging private land owners to engage with the Department of Human Settlements to develop their vacant land or fence it off.
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