Residents unite to curb land invasion

2014-08-25 00:00

RESIDENTS from Woodlands, Chase Valley and Northdale are joining forces to tackle illegal land invasions in their suburbs. They will be joined by farmers in the Otto’s Bluff area whose trees have been chopped down.

This follows Msunduzi Municipality’s failed bid on Friday to get the court to allow it to enforce an interdict to stop construction on the site.

There was a great deal of anger after the court hearing and by Friday night residents at an open air meeting in Woodlands were ready to go out into the bushes, to defend their families. After a great deal of discussion, all present undertook to be careful of vigilantism and to act within the parameters of the law. They were told that Chase Valley residents would be meeting at Carter High School on Saturday afternoon and the group decided to send a delegation to that meeting.

The meeting was chaired by Ward 25 councillor Dave Ryder. Chase Valley residents raised similar concerns to counterparts in Woodlands and Northdale. It was then decided to join forces. Several options for a way forward were discussed, including protest action. However, the first call was for representatives of the affected suburbs to meet with Mayor Chris Ndlela.

Some of the questions the residents want answered was why the municipality was not being more proactive in protecting its own land. And, why, if it got an interim interdict to stop the building of any more structures on the land, did it not do so.

Residents said the municipality wanted to increase its rates base, yet it was well aware that an informal settlement in an area devalues properties. So it was in council’s own interest to control the situation.

Ryder said that within him was an element of sympathy, as homeowners they could not imagine what it must be like not to have a house. “However, no matter what circumstances had driven the illegal occupants to do what they were doing, they could not be allowed to break the law. If there is a lack of housing, then it is the municipality’s responsibility and solutions must be found,” he said.

Residents who were at the meeting had learnt that someone was selling plots to people at R500 a piece and they wanted the municipality to investigate this. Similarly members of the Community Policing Forums in these areas and those who worked on neighbourhood watch projects said there was clear evidence that criminal activities had spiked over the past few months — there were more break-ins and theft of goods.

Ryder undertook to co-ordinate the meeting and the message they are mandated to take to council: “The areas affected are council’s responsibility. We expect them to do their job and residents will hold them to account.”


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