Otto’s Bluff on the edge

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AN entire community is trapped in their homes as the war between the municipality and land invaders rages on.

Local land invaders have “caged in” the Claridge area by barricading Otto’s Bluff road into the city.

Some feel that its time the military was brought in to patrol the area.

Residents are living in fear for the safety of their families as they are completely cut off from emergency services.

Since last week, invaders have tunneled deep trenches into the tar road, built stone walls and tossed huge trees across the main road.

Everyone travelling to and from ­Claridge is being forced to traverse 30 km long dirt roads through unlit forests by day and at night.

These snaking roads are ensconced with voiding holes and large stones, which would give any 4x4 a rough ride, let alone a normal car.

Due to the dust that rises when following another car, it is almost impossible for the driver to see more than two metres ahead in some areas.

Local residents, as well as municipal security, have attempted to clean up the road but the invaders simply rebuild their barriers overnight.

When The Witness visited the district yesterday, locals expressed their frustration and fury at the “lack of involvement by the municipality and police forces in doing more to alleviate the situation”.

“How are we expected to get any sort of food or access emergency services?

“If it rains we cannot go anywhere at all. Simple things like going to work and dropping off kids at school are now a major concern.

“We are frustrated and we don’t know what to do short of taking up arms ourselves,” one resident said furiously.

Another major worry for the residents is the electricity supply to the area. They say the power supply runs straight through Site 11 which the land invaders have taken over.

The electricity supply also powers the reservoir which supplies water to farms and houses.

One resident described two massive fires that were started by the invaders over the weekend.

“There was a huge bush fire on Saturday night. The fire brigades had to come through Albert Falls, and when they got here, they couldn’t get more water because the fire had affected the electricity supply to the reservoir,” he said.

Farms and businesses are also taking a huge knock.

A businessman who has a farm on the Otto’s Bluff road, said that transport costs have almost doubled and getting materials onto the site is nearly impossible.

“Eid is around the corner and our customers are hesitant to come and view the sheep. We are sitting ducks to ambushes and robberies on those narrow dirt roads. The fires are a hazard to our livestock,” he said.

The court case against the alleged land invaders is scheduled to take place tomorrow.

Residents and business owners who spoke to The Witness asked for their identities to be withheld out of fear that they will be attacked.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

THE land invaders’ group spokesperson told The Witness last week that he believed the position was that if there was no change taking place they could force change to happen.

“Our pleas for housing have fallen on deaf ears, so we decided to take the vacant land and put up our houses — to force change.”

The group spoke of empty promises allegedly made to them by councillors and the ANC.

Meanwhile they continue to live in mud huts that are falling apart in an overcrowded informal settlement.

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