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Durban - A piece of land in Plessislaer in Pietermaritzburg, which is at the centre of a battle between the Msunduzi Municipality and the Izwilamadoda community, has once again come under the spotlight at the city’s high court.

The community maintains that the property, described in court papers as Harewood Estate, belongs to them, and explained that they have a land claim on it, while deputy municipal manager for economic development, Raymond Ngcobo, confirmed in his affidavit that the land belongs to the Msunduzi municipality, and that the community had occupied the land illegally.

In January, the municipality approached the Pietermaritzburg High Court with an application for an urgent interim order to stop invaders from entering the property.

Harewood is municipal land that has been earmarked for the development of 1 000 low-cost houses.

The interim order, granted in January restrains community members from entering or occupying the land and from threatening municipal officials. The community is opposing the application and want the municipality to prove that the land does not belong to them.

They maintain that they are entitled to the land because it belonged to their forefathers.

However, Ngcobo said he had established from the regional land claims commission that no one had instituted a land claim relating to Harewood.

Advocate for the Izwilamadoda community members, Ashok Kaloo, submitted before Judge Isaac Madondo on Monday that the portion of land in question has not yet been established, and thus the ownership of it was still in dispute.

Kaloo said that investigations need to be undertaken to determine whether there are any signs of past occupation of the land, such as burial sites, to establish whether the community members were being honest in their claim.

Judge Madondo agreed that the portion of land at the centre of the dispute needs to be properly established in a trial.

The matter was adjourned for oral evidence to be heard. In the meantime, the interim order granted interdicting the community members from occupying the land still stands pending the finalisation of the case.

Daily News

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