Cato Crest residents divided over court order on shacks

2013-09-18 00:00

TENSIONS threatened to boil over in Cato Crest yesterday after municipal officials tried unsuccessfully to implement a court order compelling them to identify shacks that were not allowed to be destroyed.

The officials found themselves at the centre of a confrontation between home owners and shack dwellers.

On Monday, the Durban high court granted informal settlers a fifth court interdict preventing the eThekwini Municipality from demolishing their homes.

The court instructed the city’s legal team and officials to accompany the shack dwellers and to identify and mark the 31 shacks protected by the orders.

However, the process was stalled after home owners started protesting, saying that they were concerned the shack dwellers would get access to housing before them. Police, who accompanied the municipality’s land invasions unit, urged them to leave as the situation was unsafe. At one stage more than 200 people faced off with just a few metres between them.

Women in pinafores and ANC T-shirts hurled insults at police and municipal officials as they hurriedly left the area.

“You are not going to mark any shacks. We do not need shacks on land earmarked for housing development. Go back to court to explain that, no shack will be erected here,” they threatened.

An elderly resident, Elizabeth Dlamini (72), said they would not allow the construction of shacks on land earmarked for a housing development. “We do not know these people erecting shacks here. At the moment I’m staying in a house made of corrugated iron — it was meant to be a temporary home. Our shacks were demolished because of housing development and we should benefit first,” said Dlamini.

Dlamini said she arrived in Cato Crest in 1991 and was among the first people who cut down trees to construct shacks. “We do not know these people that now need to be protected by the court.”

Sbu Zikode, leader of shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, accused local councillor Mzimeleni Ngiba of dividing residents in the area. They accused Ngiba of standing in the way by organising residents with low-cost houses to protest against the order of the court.

However, Ngiba denied that he had turned residents against each other in the area. “I informed members of the development committee about the court order. We are not defying the court order, but we wanted to know where these people come from,” she said.

Zikode said: “We will wait for our legal team to advise us on the steps that need to be taken now. The court order was not about the ANC, but the municipality.”

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