Land grab to be probed

2009-12-29 00:00

UMTSHEZI Municipality will undertake an investigation to identify the instigators of the land invasion which took place in Estcourt on Christmas Day and two days later, it was agreed at a council meeting yesterday.

All political parties criticised the move to settle people illegally on municipal land near Brewitt Park, which has been earmarked for development.

Among the hundreds of people who claimed plots were some who drove flashy cars. Many of the claimants are thought to be from outside Estcourt.

Municipal manager Nonhlanhla Njoko said the municipality will select a team to investigate the matter as early as January.

It is a hopeful sign that political parties expressed disapproval of the illegal occupation, he added. “The parties agreed to support any action taken by the municipality against the ringleaders and whoever would be committing a similar act …”

When the investigation is completed municipal lawyers will be consulted and the police will be involved, Njoko said.

Bongani Dlamini, sub-regional secretary for the ANC in uMtshezi, said his party condemns the invasion.

“We understand and acknowledge that the land redistribution is painfully slow, but we urge our people to abide by the laws of the country.

“We call upon the department of Land Affairs and the local municipality to facilitate a process of engaging with all the affected stakeholders in order to resolve this matter amicably,” Dlamini said, adding that the invasion was an indication that the municipality has not taken the land and housing issue seriously.

The Democratic Alliance has traced the land grab to a similar invasion carried out by the Inkatha Freedom Party just outside Estcourt.

On Sunday, local DA leader Tom Stokes said: “This is some sort of tit-for-tat between the ANC and the IFP, as the latter had carried out a similar invasion on a piece of land just outside of town.”

No comment could be obtained from the IFP.

Provincial police spokeswoman Director Phindile Radebe said there will be police visibility in the area until the situation has calmed down.

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