Sowetan: ‘Do not steal our land’

‘Do not steal our land’

27 November 2008
Mhlaba Memela

NO WAYS: Residents of Macambini in northern KwaZulu-Natal marched to the Richards Bay town centre to protest against a proposed leisure and residential development in their area. PHOTO: Thuli Dlamini

The angry community of Macambini, northern KwaZulu-Natal, yesterday vowed to disrupt economic activity between Durban and Richards Bay on the North Coast.

More that 5000 angry residents wielding home-made weapons were protesting against a proposed R55billion tourism and residential project in their area.

They marched for about 10km to the centre of Richards Bay to hand over a document outlining their grievances to the local municipality.

The marchers’ anger was aimed at Premier S’bu Ndebele, whom they accused of announcing a Ruwaad-led development initiative without their consent.

Ruwaad is a United Arab Emirates developer who wants to build a R55billion leisure and residential development on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast.

The Ruwaad development is a government-backed deal allegedly supported by King Goodwill Zwelithini and the province’s business growth coalition body. It will cover 16000ha of land and create 160000 jobs.

The residents, who carried a coffin, said it signified the death of Ndebele and all those trying to “steal their land”.

The protestors were also against a move by Ndebele to sue chief Khayelihle Mathaba for R5million for defamation of character. Papers to that effect were allegedly filed in a provincial court last week.

The community is in favour of a deal with rival Dubai-based investor Sport Cities International for a leisure and residential development programme that will reportedly cost R2billion. This deal was allegedly sought by Mathaba.

“We want Ndebele and Ruwaad to issue a joint statement to the media withdrawing their project,” protest leader Khanyisani Shandu said. “He must also withdraw the litigation against Chief Mathaba.”

He said they they wanted “Ndebele to respond in person”.

“If the premier fails to respond to our demands we will bring the N2 and R102 to a standstill.”