Thornville residents accuse council of harassment

2013-03-14 00:00

OCCUPIERS of land on Shenston farm in Thornville have accused Msunduzi Municipality employees of harassment and of illegally impounding building material and equipment from them without a valid court order.

But the municipality denies any wrongdoing and claims that the occupiers of the land are erecting houses without planning approval.

The property on which the alleged incidents occurred is said to be adjacent to Ambleton and Slangspruit farms. This is where Msunduzi recently took issue with “wealthy people” erecting houses on the land which is earmarked for low-cost housing development.

In January the municipality lost its bid to obtain a final interdict against occupants of numerous luxury houses that have been erected on the land over a period of time.

The municipality and the occu­piers of Shenston farm yesterday reached an agreement after lengthy negotiations to adjourn the matter to April 5 for argument in the high court.

In the meantime, without conceding that it has done so, the municipality undertook not to harass, threaten or intimidate any of the occupants of the land in question whose names and other details are to be provided to the municipality by their attorney, Sundeep Singh.

The municipality also undertook to investigate claims that it is in possession of equipment belonging to a building contractor, Vukani Mdamba, and if so, to return it.

In an affidavit in support of the urgent application, Senzo Khoza alleged that the property known as Shenston farm, where he and others reside, is not registered with Msunduzi Municipality but with the state.

“We occupy this land with the permission of the registered owner,” he said.

Khoza said Msunduzi had been delivering water to the area.

“Some of us have been residing on the farm for the past 20 years and there are approximately a thousand homes constructed … ranging in value from R80 000 to R100 000”.

Khoza alleged that after failing in its January court bid in relation to the land at Ambleton and Slangspruit, the municipality had been “continually harassing” people in the area. The application is being opposed by the municipality which in court papers denied having threatened or “in any way infringed” on the rights of any occupant of the farm.

Msunduzi legal advisor Jacobus van der Merwe disputed the claim that the land doesn’t belong to the municipality.

He said part of Shenston farm was still being consolidated with a portion of Slangspruit farm.

He submitted that ongoing construction was being carried out on the farm without submission or approval of building plans or compliance with any other regulations and laws in respect of erecting a house.

The application was an attempt to stop the municipality from taking action to prevent this, he added.

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