Muden land protest shuts major road

2012-05-07 00:00

THE land protest in the Muden-Greytown area has reached fever-pitch.

Residents who put in a land claim on a farm 19 years ago, but have not received the land, have daily blockaded the main road between Muden/Greytown and Weenen for the last two weeks.

They have also cut the water supply to other areas, and the police are seemingly unable to quell the protest.

The land under dispute is a large tract that is dry and rocky, and is owned by the 194 Marina Beach Pty.

A source in the area said the protest was intensifying, and the main road was barely open.

“The blockades have caused massive traffic jams with a large number of heavy-duty vehicles queuing as they cannot pass through.

“Even when a grader is brought in to remove the blockades, the community puts them back as fast as the grader can move them.

“This community is now willing to fight to the end; they are tired of being ignored by the government. They put a claim on this land 19 years ago and to date nothing has happened.”

Community leader Jeffrey Ngobese said the community was infuriated by the lack of service delivery on the land.

“There was an electricity project being introduced in the area, but the land owner refused to let the poles run through the land and the people missed out.”

Martin Platt, the farm manager, said he had refused for services to be installed in the area as it was privately owned land.

Ngobese said the road blockage was also disruptive for the community. “The workers cannot go to work and the children cannot go to school.”

A resident who declined to be named said they were not even getting their post because of the protest.

Platt said he feared a complete breakdown of law in the area.

“This now seems more like a vigilante group. I understand they have shut down water to another area to force them to join the protest.”

Sipho Dlamini of Land Affairs said department officials met the community yesterday to inform them about the progress on the land claim, and today they would meet land owners to discuss proposals.

Umvoti Municipality Mayor Philani Mavundla condemned what he called the protesters’ lawlessness.

“There are criminal elements among the people staging a protest in Muden, where they stole tyres and the batteries from a truck,” he said.

“We visited the area on Thursday and we asked the protesters to await a report to be tabled on Monday [today], which will be addressing their concerns,” said Mavundla.

He said the road was expected to be cleared by late yesterday afternoon to make way for abnormal freight trucks to move.

Koos Marais, of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (KwaNalu) security desk, said children were restricted from going to school.

“Farmers and tourists were also affected by this because the main road was blocked, effectively destroying economic activities in the area.”

Marais said people were jumping in front of moving cars during the protest. “This has been going on for a month now and we expect the law to take its course to protect law-abiding citizens.”

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Joey Jeevan said police had cleared the road and were monitoring the situation.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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