Asla land invaded by the destitute

2019-05-23 06:00
Athi Ndlovu (25) seated on a mattress where she and others have spent sleepless nights for months. PHOTOS: Mzwanele Mkalipi

Athi Ndlovu (25) seated on a mattress where she and others have spent sleepless nights for months. PHOTOS: Mzwanele Mkalipi

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A group of people has turned an open space into their living place in Nomzamo.

The area was illegally invaded just before this month’s general election by backyarders of Lwandle, Nomzamo and Asanda Village.

The land, which is along the N2, belongs to development firm Asla, which indicated to City Vision that it has been earmarked for business development.

The land, situated near Nomzamo High School, is estimated to be around 8 hectares.

Residents living in the open space have begged that the land be released to them so they can build shacks on it.

When the City Vision team visited the area on Thursday morning, it found three families fast asleep.

According to the land occupants, many people living there were out working, while others were at school.

A number of mattresses, couches and blankets were strewn around a fireplace that keeps the people warm on cold nights.

The occupants said they were tenants in areas such as Nomzamo and Zola, but could not afford the rentals anymore.

One, Sonia Latshana (29), paints a bleak picture. She told City Vision she had been paying R700 in Nomzamo, which was a struggle to pay.

“I am not working, but one had to have the means to pay the rent,” she said. “The house owners take no stories, so when people started invading I saw this as an opportunity.

“I also came so I could erect my shack, and not worry about rent anymore. Unfortunately, our belongings were destroyed and we had nowhere to go.”

Latshana said she decided to stay in the cold open field despite its making many occupants sick.

“The security personnel come here to threaten us, and they even shoot at us sometimes,” she said. “They want us to leave, but where will we go?

“At times we are scared to be victims of crime, but we have nowhere else to go. We wish we can be given this land to build our own shacks on so we no longer suffer like this.”

Athi Ndlovu (25), a hospitality student in Nothlink College, says the living conditions are “terrible”.

“Leaving here has impacted on the way I attend school, as I’m always sick,” she said. “We cook outside and the food is dirty. We also even struggle to get water here.

“I depended on NSFAS, and the rent I needed to pay was R700, so I would be left with nothing. I am a woman, and I needed to buy women things, so it was better for me to come here.”

Ndlovu said she has visited the clinic often since she started living in the open space, and has been absent from school often too.

“There’s transport I need to pay for,” she said, “then I have to get a doctor’s note, which is really tiresome. It’s as if I‘m making excuses about my situation,” Like Latshana, Ndlovu also wishes occupants can be given the land to erect shacks on.

Asla said the land was acquired in the mid-’90s for non-residential use (“Where to from here?”,City Vision, 25 April).

It was originally earmarked for the construction of a high school for Lwandle, but it has since been rezoned.

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