ANC leader’s land invaded

2011-11-22 00:00

KWAZULU-Natal chief whip and ANC spokesperson Makhozi Khoza appears set for an acrimonious land battle with the community of eMbo ,in Hillcrest, after her property was allegedly invaded at the weekend.

This tops a tough week for Khoza, who last Wednesday was overlooked for the third time for a provincial cabinet post and who on Sunday withdrew her candidature for the post of eThekwini municipal manager, ahead of her scheduled interview yesterday.

Khoza, who was appointed chief whip of the KZN Legislature after being overlooked in last week’s cabinet reshuffle, was supposed to undergo assessment for the city manager post yesterday, but spent the day in her lawyer’s office following an alleged invasion of her land by hundreds of eMbo residents.

Speaking to The Witness, Khoza claimed she received death threats on Sunday morning and was intimidated into withdrawing her candidacy for the municipal post. She plans to lay a charge with police today.

Khoza said she received a call in which an unidentified male said: “You must back off from the position of eThekwini city manager or you will face the music like Mshibe and Sibiya [murdered ANC eThekwini councillors Wiseman Mshibe and Sbu Sibiya].”

Khoza, a former Salga CEO and KZN Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) chairperson, was among the top four candidates short-listed to succeed Mike Sutcliffe as the city manager.

Other candidates are Cyril Xaba (Premier Zweli Mkhize’s adviser), Sbusiso Sithole (Msunduzi’s current administrator) and Vuyo Molokothi from the Eastern Cape.

Sithole is widely believed to be the favourite for the post. The fact that Khoza was appointed chief whip last week was regarded as a clear sign that she was not in the running, although she insists her withdrawal was due to intimidation. She also said the selection process had lost its credibility.

Soon after receiving the alleged telephonic threat, Khoza, who was in Cape Town, said she was informed that her property in Hillcrest was being invaded.

She reported this to ANC chairperson Zweli Mkhize and provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala.

“It’s no coincidence that on the eve of my assessment for the position, I got intimidation calls and my property was forcefully occupied, hence I withdrew from the race.”

Khoza said the invaders insulted and intimidated her.

Zikalala confirmed that the ANC is handling Khoza’s complaint, but declined to give details on how it hopes to resolve the matter “as we do not discuss ANC individuals’ cases in the media”.

Yesterday, Durban metro police had to intervene to stop hundreds of people erecting informal housing structures in the vacant land next to Khoza’s bed-and-breakfast business. There appears to be a dispute over the property’s boundary.

Sfiso Mhlongo, chairperson of the board of trustees managing vacant land around the eMbo area, said he was shocked to learn that Khoza now owns some of the land.

Due to congestion in that area, the community had decided to build on the vacant plot. They began erecting their structures on Sunday. By midday yesterday, many incomplete wooden structures had been erected.

Mhlongo said the land belongs to the community and was transferred by the previous owner. He said he has documents to prove it.

“We have been hearing rumours that Khoza owns that land and is planning to give it away to build a school, we only had something tangible this morning when the police presented us with the documents showing she was the owner.

“We also presented them with our document showing that the previous owner had ceded the land back to the trust to manage it. They said they will come back tomorrow with the map showing where the boundaries are,” said Mhlongo.

He stated that he was surprised Khoza owned the land because she has only been living in the area for a short time.

He denied that the occupation was part of a larger plot to stifle Khoza’s ambition of becoming the municipal manager.

“We have respect for comrade Khoza and we are not involved in those plots, this issue is purely about the land.”

skhumbuzo.miya@witness.co.za and thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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