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Wednesday Jan 16, 2013

Dispute over Mandini land 'invader'

South African law and traditional authority are at odds in a property dispute in Mandini, with the owner demanding that the sheriff remove a land invader and the local iNkosi admitting that he gave authority for the land's occupation.

A Zululand induna gave permission for this house to be built on privately owned land.

The land belongs to Kenneth Saker, a descendant of "white Zulu" John Dunn.

It is part of the original property given to Dunn by King Cetshwayo, who ruled the Zulu nation from 1872 to 1879, as a reward for advising him on international affairs.

It has been invaded by Gugu Hlongwane, who says she has the permission of iNkosi Khayelihle Mathaba of the eMacambini clan.

Saker said he tried unsuccessfully to stop Hlongwane from building her house on the property.

Samke Mthiyane, the acting sheriff of the Mthunzini Magistrate's Court, also warned Hlongwane to stop building and vacate the land.

A Durban High Court order prevents her from being on the land as well.

But when The Mercury visited the construction site, builders were finishing off the upmarket home, which has two bedrooms, a lounge, toilet, bathroom and kitchen.

"Hlongwane showed me a letter which gave her the right to continue with construction," said the builder.

Saker said: "I have tried everything to stop this person from invading my land. I have court papers which prevent her from building, but she has no respect for the law. She has disregarded the court order."

Hlongwane said only Mathaba could explain why the construction was continuing.

Mathaba said that he had told Hlongwane she could move on to Saker's land.

She used to live on the land with her late husband. But after her husband's death seven years ago, she left the area and her house collapsed.

"She came to me last year to ask for permission to rebuild her home. She had a right to return to the land because she lived there before.

"I went to the police for an affidavit to grant her the right to build the house."

The Dunn land, which is divided among his descendants, faced numerous invasions in the early 2000s, which led to the Durban High Court ruling against the invaders. But acting on that court order has become the problem.

Mthiyane explained in a letter to Saker how she had tried to deal with the matter, without success.

She had told the builder to stop what he was doing and warned that the house could be demolished.

Mthiyane confirmed that she had told Saker she was scared to execute the court order by demolishing the house, as she feared that other residents, who were also living on the land illegally, would become violent.

This had happened before, when she tried to have illegal buildings demolished. She advised Saker to approach the SA Board for Sheriffs to give him another sheriff to demolish the house.

"Should I carry out the task contained in the court order, I will not even be able to enter the same area. Even the police cannot assist," Mthiyane said.

A sheriff from the Eshowe Magistrate's Court has subsequently been assigned to enforce the court order.

The board's Zainab Abrahams said Mthiyane was correct to advise Saker to ask for an alternative sheriff.

KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas said the police could have handled the matter better from the start.

"After a trespass case was opened, the police still refused to open a contempt-of-court case - even after the sheriff had formally served the order on those who were building and who continue to ignore it."

Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said police were available to accompany the sheriff to demolish the house.

The Mercury

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