Land invaders blocked

2019-12-13 13:20

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A final interdict has been granted to prevent land invaders from building illegal structures at the Oribi Village sub-economic housing development.

The land belongs to the Department of Human Settlements.

Odette Anderson of the department’s legal division said in papers that came before the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday that the land is 28 0989 hectares in extent. It is earmarked for a housing development and consists of vacant land as well as old and dilapidated structures.

The property has been under siege and invaded by illegal occupiers since April. However, the application for an interdict was only brought two months ago when the department realised it needed more help.

Anderson said the object of the interdict is to prevent anyone from entering the property unlawfully, completing the incomplete structures, occupying them and erecting new structures.

She said the department wants to protect the rights of indigent people who will be beneficiaries of the housing project earmarked for the property, as they have waited many years to realise their rights to housing.

The conduct of the invaders, she added, contravened the KZN Planning Act and the national Act.

The housing project is to provide houses for indigent households earning less than R3 500 a month. Msunduzi Municipality and the department have drawn up a list of qualifying households waiting to benefit from the department’s various housing projects. “Due to limited resources, there are qualifying households who have been on the waiting list in excess of 15 years,” she said.

Anderson added that the infrastructure on the property has aged, is crumbling and is generally not fit and safe for human habitation.

The housing development at the property is currently undergoing internal approval processes.

Anderson said that people began entering the property illegally since April. To curb this, the department hired five security guards, day and night, to guard the property.

Nine people were arrested for trying to invade the land but the charges were later withdrawn. Security was subsequently increased to 10 guards per shift. She added the property is large and it has a lot of unoccupied structures, making it difficult for 10 guards to secure the entire property at any given time.

In August, the security company discovered that unknown people had unlawfully entered the property, in particular an abandoned, burned-out community hall. They partially covered the roof with sheets of corrugated iron. The people were trying to convert the hall into living quarters.

They also cleared the ground and erected a new structure. Anderson said that when the police were approached, they said they could not act without a court order. In October the department asked the municipality for assistance. “It appears that the request has fallen on deaf ears,” she said.

When that failed this application was brought.

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