The building of informal structures on the land bordering a multimillion-rand development in Sheffield in KwaZulu-Natal has intensified as more land invaders move onto the municipal-owned site, reports North Coast Courier.
With one of the fastest growing populations in the province, the demand for low-cost housing from KwaDukuza’s department of human settlements has increased substantially.
The 300-odd illegal shack dwellers from the newly-built Sheffield informal settlement have demanded the municipality relocate them to another site if it wants to develop the land.
The settlement spreads across a green belt bordering the new Elaleni eco-estate, where plots can be bought for up to R3 million.
In the past few months, the informal settlement has increased from around 35 shacks to more than 300. Despite being evicted from the same area several months ago, the settlement has continued to grow.
According to the shack dwellers, a shack lord has been charging people R400 to R650 per plot.
“They should allow us to build here because we don’t have money to rent anymore, that’s why we want our own spaces,” said one of the invaders, a mother of two, who has recently relocated from Shaka’s Head.
KDM media liaison officer Sipho Mkhize recently said feasibility studies were conducted at the beginning of the year after the illegal shacks had been cleared, to ascertain the type of development to be undertaken by the municipality on the land.
Now plans to develop the land into a formal low-cost housing project have been brought to a standstill as more illegal shacks go up.
The proposed integrated housing project has been earmarked for about 800 mixed-income housing units. The project will have affordable housing with an option for a range of income groups.
The municipality hopes that this will address the challenges of informal settlements and land invasions in the area. An integrated housing development seeks to alter the housing patterns in the country by integrating communities and placing them closer to areas of economic opportunity.
However, at a public meeting at Salt Rock library last Thursday, KDM human settlement senior manager Nqobile Khawula said they could not go ahead with developing the land if it was occupied by illegal shack dwellers.
“This has delayed the project and we will have no option but to obtain a court interdict to evict and demolish all the illegal structures. We are pleading with the community because as long as there are illegal structures on the land, we cannot go ahead with the building project.”
Sheffield residents expressed their anger over the illegal land occupation and appealed to KDM to demolish illegal structures built by land grabbers.
Lack of water, sanitation, and solid waste removal have created challenging living conditions for the 300 shack dwellers in the informal settlement who have demanded interim relocation to alternative land in the area.