Fed-up residents ‘tired of waiting’ grab land to build their own houses

2019-02-05 15:11
LEFT: Sobantu residents dig a hole to erect a log marking their plot in Hollingwood, near Lincoln Meade yesterday morning after Msunduzi Municipality reneged on its promise to give them houses.

LEFT: Sobantu residents dig a hole to erect a log marking their plot in Hollingwood, near Lincoln Meade yesterday morning after Msunduzi Municipality reneged on its promise to give them houses. (Nompilo Kunene)

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It was a free-for-all landgrab on Monday as fed-up Sobantu residents continued to pick out and mark the plots they chose in Hollingwood near Lincoln Meade.

Some residents came in expensive cars and some claimed to have taken days off work to come and mark their space before the land ran out.

Most landgrabbers tied string around trees to mark off their plots while some used plastic bottles, rocks and paint. Some even brought grass cutters to cut the long grass on their plot of land.

The frustrated Sobantu residents claim that Msunduzi Municipality has reneged on its promise to give them houses in Hollingwood and have now vowed to start building their own houses there. The land grab started on Sunday afternoon.

Also read: Fed-up residents vow to start building their own homes

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo told The Witness on Sunday that feasibility studies showed that the Hollingwood site was not suitable for housing as there was a high toxicological effect on humans, emanating from the site. She did not respond to a question asking her exactly what the toxic threat was on that site.

Ngcobo said there were two other sites identified and feasibility studies have been undertaken there. She asked the community of Sobantu to be calm and patient.

A Sobantu man, who asked not to be named, told The Witness they did not need the municipality to build them houses anymore.

“They promised to build these houses in 2005 and we have been waiting. It’s fine, they must leave us alone here to build our own houses, this is our land anyway.

“They claim that this site is toxic and contains sewage, but we don’t care about that. We are living in sewage in Sobantu so we will be fine here,” he said.

Another resident, who also asked not to be named, said she had taken a day off and brought her entire family along to find a suitable plot of land on which to build their family home.

“There are 11 of us living in a four-room house with two bedrooms. We want to build a bigger home but there is no space in Sobantu.

“We are tired of waiting for the municipality to deliver on a promise they made more than a decade ago. There are people with proper houses living on this site, yet we are told that the soil is toxic for us. That’s just nonsense,” she said.

Just down the road from where the Sobantu residents were marking out sites, is an informal settlement called Msikweni where people also claim to have been neglected by the municipality.

The houses there are built from mud and are falling apart.

Some of the houses built from mud in Msikweni informal settlement where residents claim they have been neglected by the municipality. 

A Msikweni resident said the municipality promised them houses more than 30 years ago.

“Some of our neighbours were lucky as they were relocated to the France housing project in 2003. We were promised houses from the Hollingwood housing project along with the Sobantu residents.

“We live in the middle of bushes, we have no electricity, no roads, no public transport and only one tap. When that tap is not working we must walk long distances looking for water,” she said.

The 31-year-old woman said the municipality had instructed them not to allow new people to build in the area as the site was earmarked for other projects. “The Sobantu residents must come and build here. We don’t care anymore. We are tired of waiting for a train that will never come. Maybe when the municipality sees what’s happening they will get a wake-up call,” she said.

Ngcobo, the City’s spokesperson, said the Hollingwood site belonged to the municipality, so members of communitiews could not be left to do what they wanted with the land.

“An anti-land invasion strategy was developed to address the challenges that the municipality is experiencing in terms of land invasion. A team from the anti-land invasion unit has been to Hollingwood to address the matter,” she said.

Ngcobo said Dark City in Sobantu and eThembeni were identified as alternative sites for the housing project.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  land grabbing
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