The torching of four council-owned vehicles in Intuthuko Junction appears to have been the latest move in an ongoing land invasion dispute between Cato Manor residents and eThekwini Municipality.
eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda condemned the act, saying the city was concerned about the “criminal behaviour” of some members of the public.
Kaunda said the action by the community was “worrying and the unlawful conduct was not relenting”.
“This is taxpayers’ money and resources that are suppose to assist us in speeding up service delivery,” said
Kaunda, adding that the municipality was appealing to the police to leave no stone unturned and arrest those responsible for destruction of state property.
“We also urge members of the community not to be silent when incidents of this nature happen in their communities. They need to isolate these individuals by working unwaveringly with the police,” said Kaunda.
The municipality said that on Wednesday, its Land Invasion Unit came under attack when it was conducting an operation in the area to prevent land grabs.
The city said the unit came face to face with land invaders which resulted in one of the city’s vehicles being stoned and members sustained injuries.
“The investigation is under way to establish whether this operation could be the reason for the city’s property being destroyed.
“We cannot tolerate lawlessness and it is our responsibility to act wherever it rears its ugly head, because this is a country overned by the rule of law,” added Kaunda.
When The Mercury visited the area yesterday, community members distanced themselves from the violence that led to the burning of municipal property.
“We are the ones that have our shacks and our building materials burnt
by the municipality every day. All we
want is to have a shelter above our heads
and it’s sad that we can’t utilise the free
space. Where must we go to?
“They should give us land to build
our houses rather than doing what they
are doing,” said one community member who refused to be named.
Abahlali baseMjondolo deputy president Mqapheli Bonono said it was not
aware of the torching of municipal vehicles, saying its members would not have done that.
However, Bonono said the municipality was the aggressor and was “waging a war” on the poor community of Cato Manor.
“All we know is that the team came from the municipality and there was an argument. Our members are not violent and that is why we also call for police to arrest those responsible. However, the municipality must stop being violent towards our members, they must stop it as it paints a picture that these land issues are resolved with violence and fire,” said Bonono.
He said their lawyers were engaging with the municipality’s legal representatives to find a lasting solution to the matter.
“Our members are being attacked everyday and our members have been on the receiving end for too long.
“The matter is in court, why do they keep demolishing and burning the community’s property? They should come and engage the community rather than resorting to violence,” he added.