Land grab at Howick

2016-01-05 10:00
Illegal structures are being built on the R103 near the Mandela Capture Site outside Howick.

Illegal structures are being built on the R103 near the Mandela Capture Site outside Howick. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A possible land invasion has taken place just outside Howick where a large group of people occupied vacant land on the R103 and demarcated it for illegal houses on the weekend.

It is believed the people who have already started erecting structures on the land were promised low-cost houses (RDP) some years ago. Now the uMngeni municipality is seeking legal advice regarding the illegal land invasion.

When The Witness visited the land yesterday, no one was on the site. However orange tape was seen to be used to mark the plots. Three small structures with satellite dishes installed were already up along the road side.

A passer-by, who asked not to be named, said that people were frustrated that no houses were given to them as promised.

“People who have marked this land for their houses are from this very same area. They were promised RDP houses about five years ago, but no one has delivered and now they are fed up,” said the man.

DA caucus leader of uMngeni Pam Passmoor said that she witnessed some 30 people erecting the structures on Sunday afternoon.

“I saw the people digging holes and building wooden structures. I also saw them putting up the satellite dishes,” said Passmoor.

She said that no one could be seen on the land late on Sunday and through the day yesterday as “the people may have gone to work”.

“The land invaders would probably come back after they finish work to complete their buildings,” said Passmoor.

She referred to the lengthy periods low-cost housing developments take to get off the ground.

“The inordinate length of time that it takes for planned low-cost housing developments to get off the ground is aggravating the housing situation.

“Dignified living conditions through an open and transparent process must be seen to be taking place,” said Passmoor.

She added that the uMngeni municipality and the Department of Human Settlements “need to up their game” and expedite their social development programs if land invasions are to be avoided.

Ward four councillor Desmond Nkuna said he had no knowledge of any land invasion taking place in his ward and said that he would check with the municipality. The uMngeni municipality is urging community members to bear with them while they are following processes for the implementation of the housing projects.

Spokesperson for the uMngeni municipality, Thando Mgaga, said that last month the municipality advertised to employ implementing agents for the outstanding housing projects. There are outstanding housing projects in areas such as Lutchman, Tumbleweed, Hillside, St Joseph, KwaMevana and Lions River.

“The housing projects are the sole mandate of and are wholly funded by the KwaZulu Natal Department of Human Settlements who have committed funding for the housing units to be built in the 2017/2018 financial year,” Mgaga said.

He added that by sourcing implementing agents, the municipality is gearing up to hit the ground running with the construction of the houses as soon as funds are available.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  land grabs

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