Bulldozer levelling land causes heated stand-off

2014-12-01 00:00

A RESIDENT of the Nhalakhale informal settlement in Northdale hired a bulldozer, at an estimated cost of over R3 000 for half a day, to build a house and crèche.

This resulted in a heated stand-off between residents of the surrounding formal houses and supporters of the builder. However, it seems that some residents of the settlement were also not happy. All wanted to know how somebody, supposedly poor and living in an informal settlement, could afford to hire a bulldozer.

The builder, Nonkululeko Ndlela, could not be contacted, but her supporters said she had permission to build on the spot. They showed the protesting residents a letter signed by T.K. Majola, the chairperson of the ANC ward 31 branch. The letter, dated October 9, said Ndlela had been given a new site to construct her home as her house had collapsed and that she had been a resident in the area for a long time.

Ndlela’s supporters said she was going to build her house, a shop and a crèche on the site. This infuriated the protesters, who pointed out that the land being levelled was on the pavement. They also asked for proof of planning permission from the municipality.

Ndlela’s supporters said this was the new South Africa and they could do as they pleased. As tensions mounted, older residents were heard appealing for calm and level heads. The police arrived and found themselves in the middle of both parties hurling insults and accusations at each other. Calm was restored when the police sent the bulldozer away.

An informal resident, Skhumbuzo Mdluli, who lives near the site being cleared, said they had been told by the municipality that the site was not meant for building. They could plant there, but not put up structures.

A resident from the formal houses, Sanjay Singh, said the last thing they wanted was to have conflict with their neighbours in the informal settlement.

“There was tension a while back over electricity theft, but now that Nhlalakhale has electricity, this is no longer a problem. Whoever is bulldozing this land is not poor. Besides the bulldozer, bags of cement have been offloaded nearby,” he said.

Majola was contacted for comment but did not get back to The Witness by the time of going to press.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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