BCM land invasion interdict raises hackles in council

Buffalo City Metro has obtained a court order to interdict land invaders from occupying land owned by the council in Dorchester Heights, Cambridge West and Brakfontein among other areas.

The case was heard in the East London High Court where the court ruled against those who attempted or threatened to unlawfully occupy at least seven vacant BCM land parcels.

These are in Dorchester Heights, Brakfontein, Cambridge West, Braelyn Extension 10, East of Ducats, Stoneydrift and Vergenoeg where already hundreds of residents are living.

Some of the residents claimed they were forcefully moved to the areas by the apartheid government in 1992, while some illegally built their shacks in previous years.

The court ruled that those unknown to BCM and had attempted or threatened to unlawfully occupy the lands are:

lInterdicted and restrained from entering, occupying or permitting to be occupied on their behalf any portion of BCM immovable property;

lInterdicted and restrained from starting or continuing to erect and occupy any structure on the properties; and

lTo pay BCM’s costs for the application.

Tempers ran high in council last week when the item was noted, with the EFF vehemently opposed to interdicting the residents from illegally occupying the land.

EFF caucus leader councillor Chumani Matiwane likened the ANC to colonial settlers and accused the party of stripping people of their “dignity”.

“Nelson Mandela once said that ‘if the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government’.

“It is unfortunate that the former liberation movement has adopted the ways of the colonial settlers of stripping our people their dignity through land deprivation,” Matiwane said.

BCM mayor Xola Pakati said a democratic country could not be compared to a colonial state.

“Colonial states did not arise out of a popular mandate. The reference to the liberation movement as that of colonial approach is way out of line.

“Nelson Mandela never advocated for anarchy,” Pakati said. ANC councillors accused the EFF of wanting to cause anarchy.

DA councillor Dinesh Vallabh said the metro’s spatial planning and development department should take steps to enforce the court order. City manager Andile Sihlahla was instructed to present an action plan on how the order would be implemented at the next council meeting later this month.

Asked if BCM would remove the residents already living on the land, BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said “we are not yet there”.

“If there are invaders we will have to re-examine the legal process of the interdict and the effectiveness of the interdict will have to be tested,” Ngwenya said.

Surprised residents from the Dorchester Heights and Stoneydrift informal settlements said they were not informed of the court interdict.

Stoneydrift resident Ntomboxolo Nzube said: “We don’t know about the interdict. If they want to move us, where will they move us to?

“We can’t be moved from here to live under the same appalling conditions. If they want to move us here they must move us into houses because we have been staying here since 1992.”


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