Durban residents concerned as land invasions increase
Waves of land invasions occurred in various parts of Durban this week, including Spence Road in Clare Estate, where shack dwellers tried to occupy privately owned land.
Invaders cleared trees and bushes to build shacks and occupied an abandoned duplex in the area.
According to Vincent Chetty, chairperson of the Clare Estate Community Crime Prevention Association, residents became aware of the invasion on their street when they heard sounds of trees being cut this week.
“We noticed a group of people clearing a large portion of privately owned land, and we asked the authorities to intervene,” said Chetty.
An emergency community meeting, which included the alleged land invaders, was held to address the concerns of affected parties. The Saps Sydenham officials addressed the meeting and worked with both parties to resolve the issues.
“The invaders believed that the land was owned by the council,” said Chetty.
A property owner, who attended the meeting, but asked not to be named said: “Land invasion is having a huge impact on the city’s economy. We urge the municipality to set the record straight on what is private and what is council-owned land.”
At the city’s executive committee meeting this week, Mayor Zandile Gumede urged all ward councillors to be more accessible.
In Cato Crest, a large portion of land was invaded. The municipality responded with a high court application to have those shack dwellers, who unlawfully occupied the land, removed. On Friday, the city served notices that removals would happen this week.
“There are allegations that some councillors encouraging people to claim land. We are taking these allegations seriously and will deal with those councillors who are found to have encouraged land invasion,” Gumede said.
Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer said the city would capacitate Metro police and to deal more effectively with invasions.
“We have the support of the Saps, including their specialised units.”