Durban – LAND invasions are expected to increase in the run-up to the 2019 national elections.
This is according to political analyst Thabani Khumalo, speaking after a group of Clare Estate residents struggled to contain land grabs in Chiltern Drive at the weekend.
A 58-year-old woman had borne the brunt of it. Her home was surrounded by land invaders who hacked away trees and bush in a large tract of land her family owns.
Land grabs on private property have crippled ratepayers in Cato Manor, Bonela and Clare Estate recently. Attempts have also been made to occupy vacant land in Newlands West, Estcourt and Howick.
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said about 300 people embarked on a protest on Sunday, blockading Chiltern Drive with burning tyres, demanding the land.
The thick bush and trees were being cleared by panga- and bush knife-wielding people. Gwala said no police vehicles were damaged or injuries reported.
The resident, who would not be named, said the problem had been brewing since 2018 but she had not foreseen it escalating to this stage. She said her two dogs were killed in separate incidents when she asked people loitering on her property to leave. She then received death threats and was intimidated by a local shack lord who said he would eventually take the land and her home. She believes officials were also involved in the land grab.
“They came in droves to clear the land. What value does the Constitution and human rights have? My family worked hard to buy the land,” she said.
It was too late for her to call a private security company. She advised others to fence their vacant properties to prevent land grabs.
The woman said a bullet had struck her window, rocks were thrown at her home and people stood outside her home with machetes and sticks after she complained to the police.
“I am not sure if they did a title deed search as a precursor to the invasion. They think we can’t fight back. That is why they take advantage of property owners. We pay our rates and services. We uphold our part of the bargain and it’s time the government acted,” she said.
The woman said many existing Chiltern Drive and Palmiet Road shack settlement residents have jumped on the bandwagon.
The Daily News asked the Human Settlements Department about a shack settlement that had sprung up on Blinkbonnie Road in Bonela, but no response was forthcoming. Residents say they now had to contend with illegal electricity connections.
The eThekwini Municipality said it would formulate a response from its various departments dealing with land invasions.
The police and eThekwini Land Invasion Unit have also been at loggerheads with land invaders in Mary Thipe Road in Cato Manor, and Newlands West Drive.
Khumalo said land expropriation without compensation was designed to mobilise people in the interest of garnering votes.
“This is political rhetoric. A shrewd politician will see vacant land and build his reputation by mobilising desperate people with false promises.
“Politicians are exploiting desperate and needy people. They are playing with their emotions. They don’t care. They tell people what they want to hear, leave them in squalor and revisit them before the next elections. The poor are cheap fodder for politicians with ulterior motives,” Khumalo said.