Man arrested in Thornville invasion

2019-08-30 16:09
A group of people gathered at Market Square, opposite the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday after police arrested one of the community members for allegedly trespassing on private property on Thursday morning.

A group of people gathered at Market Square, opposite the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday after police arrested one of the community members for allegedly trespassing on private property on Thursday morning. (chelsea pieterse)

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More than 100 people gathered at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday after police arrested a man for trespassing on private land in the Thornville area. 

The land, which spans two private properties and municipal land, has been subject to mass land grabs since Monday last week, with hundreds of people already starting to build structures on the land.

The landowners, including Msunduzi, previously called the police and the City’s anti-land invasion unit, which resulted in some of the shacks being demolished. The shacks were rebuilt a few days later. They then approached the high court, which granted them orders that were meant to prevent people from invading their properties.

However, people continued to mark out plots and build homes on them.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said one man was arrested for trespassing on the land and was taken to court on Thursday morning.

Greg Goodall, who is a member the Goodall Family Trust which owns some of the land being invaded, said people had gathered at the land on Thursday morning, but all left and followed police to the court after the man was arrested.

He said the landowners had been told that two people were arrested, but Ngobese said only one person was taken to court.

Thabo Nxumalo was among the group who sat outside the court for most of Thursday, waiting to hear if the arrested man would be released.

“We do not want to fight, we are humble, unemployed people who just want our land.

“We are frustrated but we don’t want to fight with anyone. We understand the rules and regulations and we are trying to obey them, but we also want our land. It belongs to us,” said Nxumalo, while people from the group cheered him on.

“If the Goodalls have done anything wrong with those documents, we will find out and they will pay. If they give us a small portion of the land, we would be okay, but there is nothing. We have nothing.”

Nxumalo said the police did not have a real reason to arrest the man.

He said the group had tried to meet with the landowners at the Thornville police station on Wednesday to talk, but they were locked out of the meeting.

Landowners had met with police, the municipality and some community members to discuss their predicament. “I don’t know why they locked us out. We just want to sit and discuss and negotiate things but they [the landowners] just avoid us. It is an unfair deal.

“We are not being greedy, we just want a small portion, we want things to be a win-win situation for all,” said Nxumalo.

Another community member shouted out that if the land was not given to them they would “take it by force”.

Ngobese said late yesterday afternoon that the man was still at the court and he did not know if he was going to be released. Attempts to reach Ngobese about the outcome of the court appearance were unsuccessful.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  land invasion
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