Residents lock horns with inkosi over security fence

2015-04-09 00:00

A SECURITY fence built by Hilton residents to combat crime is attracting controversy with a local inkosi and landowner both claiming rights to the land it’s built on.

The Crompton Road residents, fed up with crime, have started building a 475-metre long razorwire mesh fence to prevent criminals from accessing their homes through the nearby bushes.

The initiative has drawn criticism from Sweetwaters residents and Inkosi Nsikayezwe Zondi who believe the land belongs to the inkosi’s traditional authority.

Inkosi Zondi told The Witness on Tuesday that the fence was built without his permission, but according to the residents, the land belongs to Rusty Roodt whose permission they had sought to build the fence. This was confirmed by the Pietermaritzburg Deeds Office.

Roodt said the land is owned by his company Rozie Farming Investment CC.

Residents said they built the fence because criminals use the bushes to launch attacks against their homes and then disappear back into them.

A homeowner, who asked not to be named, said crime was a problem in the area. “For now it is quiet. It comes in bouts. The last break-in was about a week ago.”

The residents are spending their own money and do the work themselves. Each home has contributed an average of about R7 000 with some paying even more. They estimate it will cost about R400 000 to complete and have already spent R85 000 on the fence.

The homeowner said they hoped the fence would make it harder for criminals to access their homes.

“We spoke to the local farmers and we will open a path for the cattle to access the bush. We do not want to deprive the cattle of grazing land.”

However, Sweetwaters residents and Inkosi Zondi are not pleased and fear this could cause conflict between homeowners and the Sweetwaters residents who use the bushes to collect wood and to graze their cattle.

A Sweetwaters resident, who also declined to be named, said, “This fence could cause conflict. The people will just cut it.

“I understand they [homeowners] want to stop crime and the animals from interfering with their homes, but it is my understanding that the area they are fencing belongs to the traditional authority.”

Inkosi Zondi said he will visit the area to see the fence. “They cannot just put up a fence without consultation.”

Roodt, however, said he owned the land and was still paying for it. “The homeowners are tired of crime, and they asked for my permission to put up the fence.

“Any allegation that someone else owns that land is an attempt to invade it,” he said.

The ward councillor Pam Passmoor said she had been notified about the fence by a concerned resident. “The residents putting up the fence have not involved me at all. I believe they said the fence will help fight crime.”

She said while Crompton Road had a crime problem, the fence “could create more potential problems”.

THE land was previously subject of a court case after it was invaded by a community from the nearby Mpumuza Township in 2011.

They claimed their ancestors had lived there and were forcefully removed.

Roodt approached the court and was granted an interim order preventing land invaders from trespassing on his property.

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