Land invaders will have legal representation

2014-08-12 00:00

LAND invaders against whom Msunduzi Municipality obtained an urgent interim interdict earlier this month have been given another chance to oppose their eviction.

Judge Kate Pillay yesterday expressed concern when she was told the Legal Aid Board had refused to represent the alleged illegal occupiers of municipal land on grounds that the case “was without merit”.

She said indigent people also have the right to be heard in court. Her comments were greeted by loud clapping from the public gallery.

At the request of the court, legal aid attorney Ashok Kaloo appeared in court later and told her the Legal Aid Board was prepared to consider representing the alleged illegal occupiers.

However each individual must lodge an application, which then had to be processed.

He said this would take time.

The judge agreed to postpone the case for a month for that purpose.

This was in spite of the contention by advocate Chris Snyman for Msunduzi Municipality that a final order should be granted against the invaders. He said they had admitted at the previous hearing that they were acting illegally, even though they maintain they have reasons for the illegal occupation of the land in question.

He also expressed concern that the invaders were “ignoring” the interim interdict that was granted by Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati and said Msunduzi Municipality will suffer insurmountable damage if the illegal occupants carry on chopping down forests of trees on the land.

He said the illegal occupiers were not “living” on the land in question, but simply invaded it in recent weeks. “The issue of housing must be addressed with the municipality,” he said.

Judge Pillay warned the crowd of alleged illegal occupiers in court, and their representatives, that if they contravene the interim court order and continue to erect poles and structures on the land they face being “hauled in for contempt of court”.

However she expressed her dissatisfaction that one of the terms of the interim order was that the people had to “vacate” the land immediately. She said that was tantamount to a final order being granted. However, she said no further construction was to take place.

The affected land is in Otto’s Bluff, Lotus Park and an area adjacent to Northdale Stadium. The court heard yesterday that as many as 2 000 people could be involved. The case has been adjourned to September 11.

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