PICS: Bonela residents living in fear as illegal shacks continue to mushroom unabated
The community are at their wits’ end as shack lords hone-in on vacant land to erect informal homes which they rent out.
Since Friday, a sprawling shack settlement from Wiggins Road to the top of Blinkbonnie Road has spread to the roadside on Buckingham Road. Community leaders and civic groups, who would not be named because they have been intimidated several times by often violent shack lords, said from the outset that nothing was done to curb the settlement, which had grown from 35 shacks to more than 400.
A 63-year-old resident said she had lived in the area for 22 years and wanted to sell her home to move away from the intimidation of the nearby shack dwellers, but could not due to the depreciating value of her property.
“I planned to sell up and move from here, but how can my three-bedroom home be valued at R300 000?’’ she asked. The retired nurse said she could not sleep, having to deal with the sound of hammering and moving of building materials for shack building. “Just this morning we woke up and found even more shacks built.”
A neighbour said he found that his water and electricity meters had been tampered with and suspected that shack dwellers were responsible.
Other neighbours expressed concern for the shack dwellers and questioned their safety. “How are they living with children when we experience lots of flooding here, and what happens if there’s a fire?” one asked.
One of the shack dwellers said he came from the Eastern Cape to work in Durban and did not expect to find exorbitantly high rent prices, which led to him approaching a man who he paid a once-off fee of R3 000 for a space for his shack, which is made of corrugated iron. The man, a security guard, said although he was happy to have a roof over his head, he was concerned about the living conditions, such as illegal electricity wires running through his home.
The eThekwini Human Settlements unit counted 260 dwellings in December but expected the number to have increased since.
The settlement spreads on a greenbelt from Carlow/Wiggins Road to the top of Blinkbonnie Road, and behind the walls of 38 homes in Carnforth Avenue.
eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the land was owned by the KZN Human Settlements Department.
He said the city was aware of the rampant theft of electricity and water at the settlement.
Human Settlements Department spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said the land was zoned open space. He said the settlement continued to grow despite the presence of private security guards. In one incident, three security personnel were assaulted and stabbed and had to be removed from the area.