Edendale development

2008-06-26 00:00

Thousands of people occupying private land in Edendale will soon be evicted by landowners who have finalised a multi-million-rand, up-market housing development plan, which they said will begin before the end of next month.

The development, to be carried out by members of the Edendale Landowners and Ratepayers’ Association (Elorpa), is at odds with the Msunduzi Municipality’s plan to develop low-cost housing for the benefit of poor residents.

The landowners, who oppose the development of low-cost housing on their private land, are planning to develop houses, an old-age home and a shopping centre in the area.

Talking to The Witness yesterday, landowners and Elorpa members Arnold Andrew Kumalo and Thulani Gcabashe said people who cannot afford to buy or lease the houses to be built in the area will be evicted.

“People will be evicted in phases to open space for the development and avoid the outbreak of conflict. But we are ready for resistance,” said Gcabashe, a lawyer.

Gcabashe, who said they are using the development expertise of multi-million-rand Victoria Country Club developer Richard Kelland, said there have been a number of meetings with Msunduzi Municipality and the provincial Land Affairs Department with the aim of relocating Edendale residents to alternative land.

He said the landowners have secured finance for the development from a number of financial institutions, declining to give a figure, except to say “billions of rands”.

“We are private owners and we can do whatever we want with our land. The people who are occupying that land are not our responsibility. The municipality must buy a farm and build them the low-cost houses,” said Gcabashe.

Kelland confirmed that he is part of the development.

Brian Bassett, co-ordinator of the municipality’s Greater Edendale Development Initiative, confirmed that they have had a number of meetings with Elorpa about the big development. He said that he welcomes any initiative to develop the area.

However, Bassett said he does not know about the eviction plans or whether the municipality will compensate people to be evicted.

He also said the municipality has five low-cost housing projects planned for the area.

Bassett referred questions about the Elorpa meetings to municipal manager Rob Haswell, but Haswell said: “Why should we be involved in private land?”

bhans@witness.co.za

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