Durban - A wave of land invasions along Mary Thipe Road on the border of Cator Crest and Manor Gardens - which saw the eThekwini Municipality dash to the High Court to prevent the illegal invasion - was spearheaded by the local ANC ward councillor, the shack dwellers movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo alleged on Wednesday.
In a statement, the movement said the Durban High Court had granted it an interdict against the eThekwini Municipality’s "repeated violent and illegal attacks on residents of eKhenana land occupation in Cato Crest" - which they allege was the reason behind the ward councillor directing "ANC supporters to occupy the land".
"People did not occupy the land because they were in desperate need for land. They occupied it on (the councillor's) instruction to subvert the law and threaten an autonomous popular organisation," Abahlali said.
They say that 109 families are currently occupying an area in Cator Crest known as eKhenana. As per the court order, all 109 families in the area were photographed at their structures during a site inspection on Tuesday - which means that they cannot be removed without alternate housing by the eThekwini Municipality.
"(The ward councillors) attempt to undermine our occupations in the area has failed. Our occupations are all still there. After the eThekwini Municipality approached the Durban High Court to seek an eviction order against (the councillor's) ANC people on Friday he had to call a special meeting to apologise to his people and instruct them to vacate the land they have occupied. This act triggered huge protest over the weekend against (him)".
Last Friday the eThekwini Municipality was granted an order by the Durban High Court compelling Cato Crest land invaders to make representations to court why it must not grant an order evicting them from illegally occupied land.
The land invaders were given a week to leave the area or face eviction.
The eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede welcomed the court’s decision and had earlier alluded to the fact that councillor may be behind the wave of land invasion gripping the city.
“We are a caring city, but under no circumstances shall we allow laws to be undermined in broad daylight. It is our responsibility as the city to also protect our residents that may be on the receiving end of this illicit behaviour," she said.
“Yes, we do admit that our people need land, more especially in urban areas with a hope of getting employment opportunities, but that does not justify land grabs.
“We are now moving to a stage where we are going to ensure that those invading land are prosecuted and locked up. This dents the image of our city,” said Gumede.
The ward councillor could not be reached for comment.