'We are scared of what will happen tonight' - Bonela resident

2017-08-22 22:38
SA police. (Antonio Muchave, Gallo Images, File)

SA police. (Antonio Muchave, Gallo Images, File)

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Durban - Residents of Bonela in Durban are afraid that a group of alleged land invaders will take revenge on Tuesday night after they apparently called private security guards to demolish their shacks.

"The shack dwellers threatened to come back and burn our houses down when police leave the area. They think we are the ones who reported them to police," said one resident, who asked not to be named.

People who built shacks on a vacant piece of land in the suburb two weeks ago clashed with a private security company’s guards around 14:00 on Tuesday.

They blockaded Blinkbonnie Road with burning tyres and rubble and claimed that residents called a security company to demolish their shacks.

The resident, who lives across the road from the illegally-occupied land, said they were scared of what would happen when police and security guards left. The guards left the area at 16:30.

He said the land invaders pelted residents and their houses with stones during the day.

"One of the stones broke my house window. There are stones all over our yards. In fear of the worst, we have taken our wives and kids to our relatives because we are scared of what will happen tonight," he said.

'Racial issue'

He said the land invasion began two weeks ago.

"My kids have not been to school since," he said.

He claimed the invaders turned the matter into a racial issue.

"They are now targeting Indian families for nothing. We have lived with the Zulus in our suburb for over 27 years. The land they are taking is protected land. There are monkeys and exotic birds in there. Their homes are being destroyed," he said.

Shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo secretary Thabiso Mohapi accused the eThekwini Municipality of defying a Durban High Court order dated July 27 which, he said, prevented it from demolishing shacks in the Cato Manor area, which Bonela falls under.

"What happened today was not land invasion," he said.

Mohapi said 35 families had a right to occupy that piece of land but acknowledged that some "opportunists" had built shacks there.

"At the moment we are consulting with our lawyers to find a way forward because some people were injured during the clash with the anti-land invasion unit," he said.

Municipality spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said land was a scarce resource and the municipality had an obligation to ensure it was used for the city’s development.

"The municipality has noted the sharp increase in the number of illegal land invasions and will do everything in its power to protect the rights of residents and businesses, within the ambit of the law," she said.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said no arrests were made. 

Read more on:    durban  |  housing

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