A Hammarsdale house demolished by eThekwini municipality. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
A Hammarsdale house demolished by eThekwini municipality. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Residents rebuild homes demolished by the City

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Apr 22, 2021

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DURBAN - HAMMARSDALE residents whose homes were demolished by the eThekwini Municipality in February have started rebuilding them after claiming the city gave them the go-ahead to do so.

Community members said the rebuilding process came after they held a meeting with city officials two months ago. According to the residents, an official from the city’s Human Settlements Department told them they could rebuild their houses because they should not have been demolished.

In February, the municipality’s land invasion unit demolished more than 15 formal housing structures, and threatened to demolish more because they were illegal structures.

However, the community said when they settled in the area in 2018, the land had belonged to a farmer. They alleged that the farmer sold the land to the municipality last year, while many were already living there.

Ziyanda Thusi, a resident who had his house demolished in February for the second time, said an official and the ward councillor met the community. Thusi said the official also told the community there was no need for the houses to have been demolished, as the municipality’s initial aim was to build RDP homes.

He said they were also told that those who did not have the funds to rebuild should submit claim forms to the municipality for compensation.

“I was also waiting for the compensation process, but I decided to start building using my own money,” said Thusi, adding that he had spent more than R500 000 building two houses that had been demolished.

According to the community, their housing structures have been demolished more than four times since 2016.

Another resident, Zandile Maduna, said that during the meeting with the city they were granted permission to rebuild their structures, and they were assured that those who were affected would be compensated.

“I had saved up all my grant money in order to build the house that was demolished. The house was nearly done when the municipality tore it down,” said Maduna.

Ward councillor Sibusiso Ngcongco confirmed that the community was allowed to rebuild their homes. However, he could not comment further, saying that he was occupied with the by-election.

Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the piece of land belonged to the municipality.

“This land is earmarked for a lowcost housing development that will benefit the same community.

“We have been saying it on numerous occasions that people must refrain from invading land because such unlawful conduct impedes development,” he said.

“All we did in that area was within the ambit of the law. It is very incorrect to say that the municipality conceded its conduct was unlawful, and it will therefore assist those affected to rebuild their houses.

“The community should note that in the event that there are any signs of an invasion of that land, the city will be left with no choice but to stop that land invasion within the parameters of the law,” Mayisela said.

“We are therefore calling upon our leaders in the community, as in councillors, izinduna and civil society, to assist us to clamp down on this illicit behaviour of invading land.”

THE MERCURY

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