Shack lords on the rise in KwaZulu-Natal

2017-03-01 06:01

SHACK lords are on the rise in KZN, Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay warned this week.

Last year the department incurred irregular expenditure of R4,5 million to hire security companies to guard against land invaders in the run-up to the local government elections, Pillay said.

He told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts yesterday at the provincial legislature that shack lords were behind the land invasions, which he said targeted mostly state land that had been identified for certain projects.

Armed with pangas, the invaders arrive in large numbers at several areas simultaneously, the committee heard. The existing residents fear for their lives as the “gangsters and thugs” take control of the state’s land and illegally rent out the properties, the department said.

Pillay said many projects had faced protests “generated by forces who have vested interests” because the shack lords want to remain in control.

“If the project is implemented, the rental they are collecting goes away. If land invasion is resisted there is no prospect of them extending their scope.”

He said rentals for shacks range between R200 to R800, and said demand for those shacks near towns was high.

“There is a property market in this field. It is not only building a shack and collecting rent. It is also selling sites. I am told that a site in some parts … can go for up to R8 000. We need to get a better handle on this,” Pillay said.

He told the committee the invasions were driven by political forces on the ground.

“When we are dealing with Abahlali baseMjondolo or any other organised force, they will try to paint us as being anti-poor and using force to resist a legitimate and genuine social course, which is not true,” he said.

Pillay said an investigation into the extent of the shack lords and alleged irregularities in the RDP housing project would be completed by UKZN’s Maurice Webb Race Relations Institute by the end of the month.

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