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Wednesday Mar 20, 2013

Mayor warns off Durban's invasion opportunists

Opportunistic residents of Durban townships are flocking to join land invaders in Cato Crest and Sherwood in an attempt to get their hands on low-cost houses.

eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo said yesterday that people who had joined the land invasion were from Umlazi, Lamontville, Chesterville and other townships. "These people are coming in and think they can take a chance. I even saw my neighbour there, who has a nice house... There was a tense stand-off between the police and invaders carrying dangerous weapons at the weekend... We will not tolerate land invasions," said Nxumalo.

In the past two weeks, close to 1 000 shack dwellers - whose homes had been demolished to make way for formal low-cost housing in Cato Crest - began clearing land in Sherwood and Cato Crest with the intention of building shacks.

The shack dwellers are demanding that the council provide them with houses, or find an alternative place for them to live. Nxumalo said that the issue was complex as the shack dwellers were the "tenants of shacklords".

"There are people who lived in the area since the apartheid era and rented out shacks to those coming from outside of the city. But the beneficiaries of the housing are the landlords, and now the tenants have been left stranded," he said.

He said that the city was faced with a difficult situation: it did not want to create transit camps, but had to help people.

We have been speaking to some of their representatives and we have asked for a picture of who is affected. Hopefully, once we have that information, we can find a solution," he said.

The situation became tense at the weekend when Thembinkosi Qumbelo, 45, and Sizwe Cele, 23, were shot dead on the day Nxumalo met land invaders to discuss their demands.

Qumbelo, who was an ANC member, had been the leader of the people demanding houses.

Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that the murders were linked to the land invasion. No arrests have yet been made.

The Mercury


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