Home South African News Tensions boil as invaders buy land for R50 a plot

Tensions boil as invaders buy land for R50 a plot

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Land invaders have staked claims to land at an upmarket gated estate on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, fuelling racial tensions between the land owners and the local African community.

An unidentified man uses a bush knife to clear land that he has demarcated as his plot. Scores of people invaded land that is part of sought-after Palm Lake Estate in Umhlali, outside Ballito, that belongs to Indian property owners. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ African News Agency (ANA)

Land invaders have staked claims to land at an upmarket gated estate on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, fuelling racial tensions between the land owners and the local African community.

The land invaders are claiming ownership of the pristine estate, claiming they had been given permission by a local chief, who had charged them R50 per plot.

Indian property owners claim to have bought the land, which is under the Greater KwaDukuza Municipality, from white people before the democratic dispensation.

About 15 hectares of the land in question is part of the Palm Lake Estate in Umhlali, outside the upmarket suburb of Ballito, where the most expensive house is on sale for R5.75million and a plot can be bought for R780000.

The land invaders yesterday said they were landless shack dwellers. But their actions have infuriated municipality mayor Ricardo Mthembu, who accused people of misrepresenting the ANC’s resolution on land expropriation without compensation.

However, land grabbers, who refused to be identified and photographed, said their action had nothing to do with ANC politics.

“We don’t know anything about ANC resolutions. All we know is that this is our land, and Inkosi had given it to us, but Indians say this is their land.

“It cannot be correct that hundreds of Africans are without land just because of few Indians,” said a man carrying a bush knife he used to
clear what he claimed to be his plot.

Invaders said they started working on the land three weeks ago.

“We have paid R50 per plot, and we have been allowed to choose any piece of land we want,” he said.

The invaded land could be easily identified with demarcation tapes.

Although it is not yet known how much the cheapest plot could cost, an estate agent said: “If you want to see how much that land is worth, go to our website to see how much the houses are worth in that area.

“If you want the cheapest home, you will have to be prepared to part ways with R3million,” said the estate agent.

An Indian man watched as groups of people armed with pangas were passing his house. He too asked not to be named for fear of intimidation.

“Every day I see about 300 people working on that land, which belongs to Indian families.

“I am frightened that one day they will claim my house,” said the married father of four.

Anil Haripershad, who owns a double-storey house, also insisted that the land belongs to Indian families.

“I am not against people getting vacant land, but proper processes should be followed because owners should be compensated for their land.

“Most families have kept land for years to build houses when they retire,” said Haripershad.

He gave The Mercury a list of nine Indian families who had title deeds to the vacant land.

Ravinash Rambally said his 72-year-old retired father, Heramar, bought the land in 1989.

“Now that he had retired he had been preparing to start building a house,” said Rambally.

Wim Sak, chief executive officer of Royal Palm Property Holdings, which owns Palm Lakes Estate, said his company had planned to use the land which had been invaded to extend the estate.

“The land will be worth R100million after we have developed it,” he said.

A meeting was held yesterday evening between Sak, landowners, traditional leaders and municipal officials to find a solution.

Mthembu said the ANC resolution did not say people should grab other people’s land. “But it says there should be processes.

“The law must take its course because we are not in a banana republic, but we have a country with laws,” he said.

All attempts to get hold of the local chief implicated in land invasion last night were unsuccessful.

The Mercury