By Esther Lewis

The construction of a Gugulethu shopping centre will be halted on Thursday morning by Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC) protesters if property developer Mzoli Ngcauzele does not meet their demands.

If there was no action from Ngcauzele, the AEC threatened to vandalise his home and popular Gugulethu butchery and restaurant, Mzoli's Place.

Mncedisi Twalo, AEC spokesperson, said step two would be to bring "chocolate buckets" from the informal settlements and empty them on his properties. As a last resort they would burn tyres in the streets.

The war of words erupted on Tuesday as the AEC and about 60 residents marched on Ngcauzele and called him a "black wolf in sheep's clothing".

Ngcauzele hit back, calling them "criminal thugs".

The ongoing feud is over a shopping centre being built by Mzoli Properties.

The AEC claim there was no proper consultation with the community and that locals were not being employed for the development.

They also accused Ngcauzele of intimidating residents.

Ngcauzele dismissed the claims as lies.

The AEC demanded that he stop the alleged intimidation, guarantee informal traders space to do business at the new mall, and hold meaningful discussions with residents.

Twalo said business owners from the former Eyona Mall, demolished to make way for Ngcauzele's new mall, had been negatively affected by the construction.

Thobeka Myoli, one of the people whose business was not relocated before the demolition of Eyona Mall, represents Eyona business owners and says they are not against the new development, but believe there has not been enough communication.

But Ngcauzele, who claims to have relocated most of the tenants from the previous centre to temporary trading spaces rent-free for the duration of the construction, said he would not listen to the demands of the AEC.

"We can't be forced by criminal thugs to do things the way they want us to.

"We have worked with councillors and street committees and have ensured that no one is left out of the process. We are doing everything by the book," he said.

Construction is expected to be completed in September next year.