Red Ants back in Hermanus as land demand lingers

2018-09-15 07:54
Police in Zwelihle, Hermanus (Jenni Evans/News24, file)

Police in Zwelihle, Hermanus (Jenni Evans/News24, file)

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The Red Ants had to be called to Hermanus again in the past three weeks, following an apparent "land invasion" involving around 400 structures, the Overstrand Municipality said on Friday.

This, as officials get talks over emergency housing back on track.

"We had to obtain the services of the Red Ants in demolishing structures," said municipal manager Coenie Groenewald.

He said the most recent incidents were on Wednesday and Thursday as people moved onto a swathe of land behind the Hermanus swimming pool, allegedly without municipal authorisation.

Groenewald said the municipality was trying to prepare a different site for emergency housing because it considered that the site near the pool was not fit for habitation.

In the past three weeks, there was an unexpected surge of people in at least five incidents on plots around Zwelihle - one on a plot reserved for a desalination plant, another on a plot reserved for a housing project, and another on a private portion called Schulphoek which might be sold to the municipality.

In the meantime, work is still under way on a temporary site where utilities such as water are being put in for the intended temporary accommodation of those who will eventually move onto the Schulphoek land if the sale goes through.

A meeting has been scheduled in Hermanus for this Thursday with MEC for Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela and the Zwelihle Renewal Committee, to discuss all these issues and for a possible update on the Schulphoek deal. The committee represents "backyarders" and people short of housing.

In the meantime, the municipality hired protection services for the sites and has an interdict in place to prevent further alleged illegal occupation while it arranges the emergency accommodation required for the people who moved on to the sites.

Zwelihle Renewal Committee member Sicelo Gxamesi said that in the past three weeks, there had also been some confrontations with police. He helped at least one person, who had been hit by a rubber bullet, get medical attention.

However, he was hoping that there would soon be some finality to all of the issues raised.

"The most important thing is to get a solution," he said. 

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