Estcourt land case in court

2010-03-24 00:00

A HIGH court dispute between uMtshezi (Estcourt) Municipality and the occupiers of municipal land — who allegedly invaded land earmarked for an upmarket development on Christmas Day last year — was adjourned by consent yesterday to April 6.

The municipality obtained an urgent interim interdict in the wake of the invasions.

The occupants were ordered to vacate the land and were restrained from holding meetings there or forcing local residents to provide them with water. They are also forbidden to mark out plots of land or build any structures on the land.

The sheriff was authorised to ensure compliance with the court order.

The case is expected to be referred for oral evidence at a future date.

In a replying affidavit, one of the occupiers of the land, Nelisiwe Majola, has alleged that the municipality approached the court in “bad faith and with ulterior motives”.

Majola said that under the Constitution, people “have the right to adequate housing” and alleged that uMmtshezi Municipality has failed to afford them that right.

She said most of the respondents in the case (the “illegal occupiers”) live in Estcourt and are “professionals”.

“Some of us are renting flats and some are residing at home. We have previously approached the applicant’s (uMtshezi Municipality) offices with regard to housing and land issues, and we were informed there was no land available in Estcourt.”

Majola said that when they tried to engage with the municipality about these issues, they were “ignored”.

She said the respondents need land because most of them live far from town, and they wish to live nearer to their workplaces.

“We do not want land free of charge, but at a reasonable price,” said Majola.

uMtshezi municipal manager Patricia Nyoko said in her affidavit that the municipality has provided houses for the community “in an orderly and sustainable manner”.

She detailed a number of low-income housing projects that have been completed since 2007 as well as ongoing projects.

Middle- to high-income units are to be built at Brewitt Park, where the land invasion occurred.

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