Mayor’s no-show blow

2014-08-28 00:00

WOODLANDS and Chase Valley residents were left bitterly disappointed when Mayor Chris Ndlela did not show up to take their petitions after holding a picket outside the city hall yesterday. They were calling on the council to stop illegal land invasions.

Later, ward councillor Dave Ryder felt equally deflated after listening to Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi explain why the council’s hands were tied regarding the invasion along Otto’s Bluff Road.

However, unknown to the picketers, as yesterday’s full council meeting proceeded, municipal staff were breaking down illegal structures erected on the land. (See story by Mlondi Radebe.)

The picketers, who confined their numbers to groups of 14 not to fall foul of the law, had arranged to hand over their petition to the mayor. However, when the appointed hour came, there was no sign of Ndlela.

The protesters were told that the first citizen had been advised not to accept the petition as the matter was sub judice.

The dejected protesters left the city hall, saying they would report back to their committee and plan further.

Nkosi told the council yesterday that the municipality had gone to court over the issue and had to be careful in dealing with the matter as they did not want to interfere with the legal process.

“We went back to court to apply for an order of contempt of court that was not granted. We don’t know why. The case will be back in court in two weeks’ time and we are monitoring the situation and using our own strategy and tactics to ensure that there are no further invasions.”

Ryder said he saw nothing in Nkosi’s report that gave him comfort. His concern was that while everyone waited for the court processes to play out — which could easily be postponed to a much later date — the illegal invaders were ignoring the interdict in place and were continuing to erect structures on the land.

“I am highly disappointed. The municipality is the owner of the land, and the municipal manager has a court interdict to stop more structures coming up,” he said.

Nkosi said the situation was not that simple. “If someone puts a shack on the city hall lawn, we can’t just uproot that person; we would have to go to court.”

He said council also had to work with the Public Order Policing Unit in chasing off the invaders. Currently the unit was based in Mooi River where there were service delivery protests.

“We are depending on the courts for this issue, and if the courts don’t come to the party, we are hamstrung. We will then have to provide them [the invaders] with regular [municipal] services,” Nkosi said.

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