Durban land invasion halted

Jeff Wicks, News24

Durban - Police and the Ethekwini Municipality's Land Invasion Unit scrambled to stop the building of shacks on city land near the Riverhorse Valley Industrial Park on Sunday.

The unit are understood to have used rubber bullets to disperse a group of nearly 500 people who had begun clearing bush on a hillside adjacent to the N2 freeway between Queen Nandi Drive and the M25 KwaMashu Highway.

The land flanks existing shack settlements that spill over from KwaMashu's A and B Sections.

A land grabber, who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, explained that living in A Section hostels which had become a hotbed of crime had forced people to move.

He said that many had feared for their lives, and that this had driven them to try to find land elsewhere.

A large tract of land which runs alongside the freeway had already been cleared by the would-be settlers, and in the distance plumes of smoke rose from indigenous bush where people had cleared scrub and brush.

A police source, who could not be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said that one of the people erecting illegal dwellings had injured himself while fleeing from police.

"He claims to have been shot by the Land Invasion Unit but that seems unlikely because it looks like a scratch wound on his neck from running into a piece of wire.

"When that happened they called the police and now they are trying to settle everything down," the source said.

Ethekwini Municipality spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said that land invasion had been successfully halted.

"The city warns against land invasion on both government and privately-owned land. This is a serious offence and perpetrators will be dealt with by law enforcement personnel," she said.