Land invaders moved on-site beside Sugarcane Road in Illovo alongside the R603 on Thursday morning, and when the South Coast Sun visited the area earlier today, some were still marking off plots using tape at about noon.
Ward 97 councillor Andre Beetge explained that the land is owned by the provincial government and not the municipality, meaning the municipality is unable to get involved in correcting the situation.
Residents of the area reported that about 50 land invaders arrived on foot, while others were in luxurious cars.
The community was bewildered that this illegal act was allowed to go on for two days, without authorities intervening. A resident asked one of the “land grabbers” who confirmed to him they are indeed “demarcating the areas they are claiming”.
Red and white danger tape has been demarcating plots of land over the past two days.
Numerous people reported the matter to Toti police, but residents say they saw only one Durban metro police car at the scene this morning.
Amanzimtoti SAPS communication officer Captain Charlene van der Spuy told the South Coast Sun that the police station had sent officers to the scene yesterday, but she was unsure of the outcome.
“This is a civil dispute which is being addressed by all parties involved. There are procedures to follow in order for the matter to be resolved. The situation is being monitored closely by the police to prevent any situation of a criminal nature,” she said.
It is still unclear whether the invaders will be charged with trespassing.
Ward 97’s councillor Andre Beetge gave comment on the situation which is taking place in Ward 109.
“A while back I was travelling this area when I noticed several wooden pegs with white and purple markings planted in the bush. I didn’t take much notice as they were well aligned on what appeared to be land (which does) not belong to council and positioned to the point of demarcating an array of possibilities.
“I received a first enquiry regarding clearing of land closer to the Almond/R603 intersection on Wednesday, 10 October.
“A colleague deployed to ward 109 confirmed activities were related to land grab and illegal occupation, with mention of interference from uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) veterans. The ward 109 councillor pleaded ignorance on the matter.”
Beetge said a site visit on Thursday found that two excavators had already cleared a substantial portion of the land behind what was previously a SAPS reservist training facility. Activity was continuing in an eastern direction towards the sugarcane fields.
“The land clearing appeared [to be taking place] within the perimeters of the land purchased by the KZN provincial government some three years ago and currently managed by Dude Tradeport. We established communication with a security representative from Dube Tradeport, who indicated that they had been made aware of some activity by their tenant Illovo Sugar, but were of the impression that the matter was resolved.
A Dube Tradeport representative visited the area today and confirmed that land invasion was taking place on KZN provincial and not eThekwini municipal property. This changed the reaction to the issue, as the municipal land invasion unit can only react where such activities are undertaken on municipal owner property,” he said.
Land on both sides of Sugarcane Road, Illovo has seen people demarcating off pieces of it for themselves. Seen in the video below are a few of the estimated 50 people that arrived over the last two days to claim their section.
The responsibility to react now falls on the owner of the property. Whether the land belongs to the provincial government through Dube Tradeport, or to Illovo Sugar in terms of an occupation agreement, is still to be determined.
Updates to follow as more information becomes available.