Council to expropriate land

2011-07-26 00:00

UNBLOCKING land for development in the greater Edendale area is behind the lengthy adverts that the Msunduzi Municipality placed in The Witness and Echo newspapers on Thursday last week.

The adverts publicised the municipality’s intention to expropriate 222 properties, mainly in Edendale, and a few in Harewood, Slangspruit and Plessislaer.

Most of the owners whose properties are targeted for expropriation are deceased.

Once the expropriation process has been completed the land will be freed up for long-awaited development. This includes housing.

David Gengan, acting economic development and planning manager in the municipality, told The Witness the notices refer to pockets of land in the Edendale valley where the municipality could not identify the property owners, despite extensive deeds searches and other processes over a six-year period to try and identify the owners.

Gengan said the council took a resolution to expropriate the land and by advertising the owners’ names, it hopes they will come forward, or that others will, with information about them.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said the council has identified five priority housing projects on private land.

The only way to assemble land parcels for these projects was by expropriation, he added.

The greater Edendale area has for some time been targeted for development aimed at, among other things, turning the historic area into an economic hub, transforming the area from a township to a suburb and addressing poverty and unemployment.

The plan for Edendale has been stalled since the conception of the Greater Edendale Development Initiative (Gedi) in 2004 mainly because the municipality could not buy private owned land as it was difficult to trace the owners.

Gedi’s function is to facilitate development programmes in greater Edendale.

Edendale’s land issues rest mainly on the reality that land is divided into the land owned by the government and privately owned land.

Due to segregation under apartheid landowners in the area experienced problems with land invasions.

Compounding this was political turmoil in the area in the 1980s and ’90s that made tenants reluctant to pay rent.

In charting a plan to revive the economy of the area and bring development, the provincial government, municipality, land owners, business and community members have been involved in extensive consultations to allow the council to purchase land to make way for development.

The then MEC for housing, Dumisani Makhaye, made provision for about R20 million for land purchases in the area.

Said Zuma, “The notices call for all interested parties to come forward should they wish to oppose this intended action, or in the case of probable heirs, settle the matter by negotiation.

“All objections will be dealt with individually with a view to resolving them amicably. The intention is to avoid hostile expropriations.”

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