City adopts zero-tolerance approach to land invasions, promises to demolish new shacks

2013-10-16 16:09

The eThekwini municipality has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to land invasion and will demolish any new shacks built and stop any invasion of state property, Mayor James Nxumalo has said.

However, people living in existing informal settlements where delivery plans were in place would eventually receive services.

eThekwini also promised to do away with the transit camps in which it has housed residents of the shack settlements it bulldozed around the city.

At a media briefing today, Nxumalo said the city had started work on preparing alternative land to accommodate some 750 families from the Isipingo transit camp, where they have been living since 2009.

Nxumalo said the camp housed around 370 families from Umlazi who were moved from KwaMnyandu to make space for World Cup upgrades at the local sports stadium and some 150 flood victims from Dakota Beach who lost their homes in the same year. The rest of the residents had been removed from settlements at Bayhead, Hillary, Umlazi and Umbilo.

“Living conditions in that camp are not humane, as we have realised that the area where they were relocated to is unsuitable because of damages, as witnessed during heavy storms. It is clear that these families have to be relocated to a better place. From this week, the municipality has commenced with preparatory work for relocation,” said Nxumalo.

The city has been housing residents from settlements it has demolished since around 2006 in transit camps around the city. Residents of one camp at Siyanda have successfully taken the city to court to force the municipality to accommodate them in the housing project they were moved to make way for. However, the city has still to provide them with alternative housing in the area and wants to relocate them to the far south of the municipality.

Nxumalo said the city had taken a “firm decision” to do away with transit camps and promised instead to use a “new housing technology” to fast-track housing delivery.

He said the city had followed the law in its recent spate of demolitions at Cato Crest, claiming that church groups and the General Council of the Bar had intervened on the basis of “wild and baseless allegations” and accused social movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, which has been mobilising in squatter communities, of “misleading” and “using” the poor for their own ends

Nxumalo said people continued to move into eThekwini and stage land invasions on vacant land to try to force the city to provide them with houses and services ahead of others.

“What compounds the matter is that there are groups, including political parties, who have been encouraging people to invade land and spread a lot of misinformation, thereby raising people’s hopes and expectations unnecessarily,” Nxumalo said.

Nxumalo claimed the recent uprising at Cato Crest was not related to service delivery but rather “social instability” as “people jostle to be among the first to benefit from the housing project”.

» Social movement activists, including the International Alliance of Inhabitants, today celebrated World Zero Evictions Day by staging a protest outside the South African consulate in New York in support of the Cato Crest residents evicted by the city

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