Land grab: council set to talk to invaders

2010-01-04 00:00

THE uMtshezi Municipality has reportedly buckled under the pressure of repeated land invasions in the district and has adopted a conciliatory attitude with the invaders, calling a meeting with them to resolve the situation.

This emerged during a community meeting in Estcourt yesterday.

The municipality is taking strain as two groups of people who claim they are without land invaded two plots of municipal land within a week. They invaded a plot near Brewitt Park on Christmas Day and another at Papkuilsfontein on New Year’s Day. Both groups were charged with trespassing and removed from the area.

The group that invaded the plot in Brewitt Park has launched a legal challenge against the municipality, which will be heard in a Pietermaritzburg court on January 7. And the second group is also threatening a legal battle.

A source who attended the meeting said the municipality is taking strain over the invasion and the prospect of legal challenges.

“A representative, apparently from the municipal manager’s office, made an offer to the community that there should be negotiations about this issue and we insisted that a real offer should be in writing,” said the source.

This was confirmed by one of the land invaders, Khawulani Mbele, who said the municipality hasmade an offer to resolve the situation.

He said the 121 families who invaded the Papkuilsfontein land and now call themselves the Mandela Park residents are waiting on the municipality to make an offer before they choose their course of action.

“The municipality has scheduled a meeting with the community to resolve the situation,” said Mbele. “However, should we not get a satisfactory response, we will take this matter to the high court if we need to.”

Mbele reiterated his accusation that the IFP-led municipality’s allegedly partisan policy on service delivery is to blame for the current turmoil.

“They deliver services to their stronghold areas. Even if you are an IFP member and you do not live in that stronghold you do not see any service delivery.”

Municipal manager Nonhlanhla Njoko, however, denied that they had tried to reach out to the land invaders. “At this point everything is under control, and I am not aware of any meeting scheduled with the invaders,” she said.

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