Category Archives: Thamsanqa Magubane

The Witness: KZN to set up anti-land invasion unit

THE KZN Human Settlements Department is setting up an anti-land invasion unit to combat the invasion of government land.
Department spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said they had gone out to tender to contract a service provider, and the talks were at an advanced stage.

He was speaking to The Witness on the sidelines of the department’s budget debate in the provincial legislature yesterday, where MEC Ravi Pillay tabled his budget of R3,5 billion for the 2015/16 financial year.

The budget dealt with several issues including land invasions.

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Witness: Landless frustrated with Land Reform[_id]=89934

Landless frustrated with Land Reform

by Thamsanqa Magubane

THE Department of Rural Development and Land Reform came under heavy criticism yesterday as frustrated landless people laid the blame for their plight on its inability to settle land disputes.

A large group of members of the Abahlali Basemjondolo, the Landless People’s Movement and the Rural Network marched to the department’s offices to hand over a memorandum of their grievances.

Many travelled from as far as Durban, Eshowe, and Utrecht.

They said the office had failed on its mandate to deliver land to communities and needed a complete overhaul.

“This office is useless. It never does anything for the community, and it should undergo what is called renewal or renovations,” said Sthembiso Mahlaba of the Landless People’s Movement.

“We filed land claims years ago and those have been ignored by the officials. In the event that we do get that one farm from the many that we have claimed, the officials also keep saying they will lease it to us. The farm dwellers are never a concern for them,” said Mahlaba.

Pastor Sibusiso Mthethwa, a leader of the march, lambasted the department employees for their lack of compassion.

This after a small group of employees had abandoned their workstations and stood on the stairway and balcony to gawk and laugh at the protesters.

“These people are standing here behind us, laughing. They view what we are doing here as a big joke; they do not realise that we are here trying to express the pain that we are feeling.”

Mthethwa said it was shocking that after years of democracy, black people still found themselves marching to have their concerns addressed. “These [marchers] are the same people that vote. They are responsible for the local, provincial and the national governments, yet they find themselves neglected by that same government.”
He said the failure to address land issues had left communities, especially in rural areas, vulnerable to abuse.

“On the farms, people are still being evicted arbitrarily. They are not allowed to bury their people there, and children older than two are forced to move out of the farms.”

“In cities, those who lived in shacks were condemned to live in those conditions or in one-room houses that were not ideal for family habitation.”

Khetha Nzimande, the Acting Director at Land Reform, said the concerns raised would receive “the necessary attention”.

Armed de-electrification in Pietermaritzburg[_id]=84299″

Blitz against hot-wiring sparks violent demo
12 Jul 2012
Thamsanqa Magubane and Chris Ndaliso

PARTS of Northdale turned into a war zone last night as residents of the Nhlalakahle informal settlement retaliated against the disconnection of their illegal electricity earlier in the day.

They barricaded Bombay Road with burning tyres and stoned passing vehicles.
By 7pm last night, the intersection between Bombay Road and Balhambra Way was in flames.

Protesters moved through the dark as plumes of smoke from the burning tyres created a barrier between them and the police and fire-fighters on either side of the road.

At the time of going to press the situation remained unchanged, with police unable to enter the settlement to try to contain the situation.

Angry protesters threw rocks and bottles at passing cars and whoever dared to come near the burning tyres.

Cars driving down Balhambra Way to join Bombay Road had to make a mad dash past the stone-throwing protesters.

One motorist had his back window shattered.

He parked on the side of the road to make an inspection of the damage.

“I don’t know what I have done to these people. It’s going to be a battle for me to sign affidavits and filing for insurance claim to fix this mess.

“You could swear that what they are fighting for is legitimate, but they are in the wrong,” said the motorist, who asked not to be named.

Fire-fighters and police officers stood at a cautious distance lest the protesters stoned them.

A senior fireman, who identified himself as J.S. Marais, remarked that if the protesters could shoot, no one would know who had fired the shots.

Marais had barely spoken when a brick from the other side of the settlement landed between the bystanders and the police, sending everyone scurrying back.

“I can’t send my guys there … For us to get the fire out, it must be safe there,” he said pointing to the blocked road.

The drama started after officials from the Msunduzi Municipality’s disconnection unit, accompanied by police, raided Nhlalakahle to remove all illegal electricity connections.

Members of the team, who declined to be named as they are not allowed to speak to the media, said they collected about a ton of wires.

“There must have been 150 houses in this area,” said a municipal worker. “We had to go house by house to remove all these illegal connections.”

The residents began protesting at about 5pm yesterday.

The worker added: “They first burnt the tyres from the top of the settlement and then rolled them down to the road.

“One of the tyres almost burned one of their houses.”

A municipal team member said the residents in the settlement had been stealing electricity for the past two years.

“They steal electricity from the street lights and this leads to overheating of transformers and power outages,” he said.

Ward councillor Rooksana Ahmed said attempts were being made to resolve the situation.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma could not be reached for comment.

Police said they would only be able to comment today.[_id]=84340

‘We’ll cut down lights …’
13 Jul 2012
Lunga Biyela

A RESIDENT of the Nhlalakahle informal settlement in Northdale, who was in the midst of Wednesday evening’s violent demonstration, warned yesterday that the community would cause more chaos unless it was given electricity.

“We still have plenty of tyres. There are tyres everywhere. We will cut down all of these street lights,” said Sibusiso Sibiya (23), warning of more violent protests.

“We want electricity and water. That is all that we want. We are not fighting with anyone,” said Sibiya.

Sibiya, who said he was part of the crowd that burnt tyres and stoned police vehicles, admitted he was one of the residents who were responsible for the illegal connections.

The protest erupted after Msunduzi Municipality sent in a team to disconnect hot-wired cables in the settlement.

“They [the municipality] don’t want to give us electricity, so we will get it ourselves. We voted for them, but they don’t want to help us. If they can give us water and electricity, we won’t fight with them,” he said.

During Wednesday’s protest, teargas canisters were fired into the informal settlement as residents created a barrier with burning tyres to keep police and fire-fighters on the other side of Bombay Road.

Sibiya complained about the teargas, saying that young children, who were not involved, had been affected.

“They didn’t think about them. There are sick children here now who are coughing because of the teargas.

“We are discriminated against because we live in squatter camps and because we are poor,” he said.

“We did nothing wrong. All we did was steal electricity.”

Whenever there were power cuts, he warned, the residents would connect their homes to powerlines.

A resident in Bombay Road across the informal settlement told The Witness anonymously: “We live in fear. Nobody could come out of their house because they were all afraid of what was going on. The neighbours even had their car [which was parked outside] vandalised.”

The riots started after the municipality had gone to the area to remove illegal cables and connections.

A spokesperson for the municipality, Nqobile Madonda, said a municipal team was sent in because “paying customers’ electricity supply in the surrounding area was being continuously compromised by illegal connections”.

She said the connections were overloading the electricity network and destabilising the supply, which resulted in the municipality losing about R30 000 a month.

Police have yet to make an arrest after the violent protest.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane warned that “the police will use all available resources to deal with unruly behaviour by members of the public”.
Zwane said Wednesday night’s protesters were “playing a cat-and-mouse game with the police in that they quickly disappeared between the bushes and the mountain terrain”.

“To pursue the protesters under these circumstances would have been suicidal for the police and would have unnecessarily endangered the lives of innocent bystanders,” said Zwane.

It was therefore difficult to identify perpetrators, he said.

When The Witness visited the scene yesterday, there were no police in sight.[_id]=84428

Jika Joe: War on power theft goes on
14 Jul 2012
Lunga Biyela

THE Msunduzi Municipality removed more illegal electricity connections yesterday, this time in the Jika Joe informal settlement.

This follows Wednesday’s removal of illegal connections in the Nhlalakahle informal settlement that led to a violent protest when angry residents burnt tyres and stoned passing cars at the intersection of Bombay Road and Balhambra Way.

Dramatic scenes ensued yesterday as municipal workers accompanied by heavily armed guards pulled out cables — some of them buried underground — around shacks in Jika Joe.

Municipality spokesperson Nqobile Madondo said there would be ongoing raids to remove illegal connections so that paying customers’ services were not interrupted.

Residents of Jika Joe complained that they would not be able to keep themselves warm.

“We will not be able to put on heaters,” said Mbonga Mbhele (33) who was speaking on behalf of his neighbours.

Jika Joe residents also raised the problem of having only one tap to serve scores of households, and said toilets were in a bad condition.

Their complaints were similar to those voiced by residents in Nhlalakahle.

On Thursday large parts of neighbouring Northdale were left in darkness after several power poles were toppled. Outraged residents in Northdale want the municipality to act against the people who hook up electricity cables illegally in Nhlalakahle.

“The residents here have been patient, and they understand the plight of those living in the informal settlement,” said Pastor Adiel Chetty of the Entabeni Community Church.

“People will be protesting to have Nhlalakahle removed. It is the only way forward,” said Chetty.

“As residents, we don’t know how to approach this issue. This is an issue between Nhlalakahle and municipality. We are caught in the middle of that war,” he said.

Madondo said illegal connections were “very costly” for the municipality to tackle.

“They compromise on the infrastructure that we have and are very unfair to legal paying citizens as they disrupt their services as well,” she said yesterday. “We will continue to disconnect all illegal electrical connections within Msunduzi Municipality.”

The SA Police Service and municipal security are always on hand to assist in case of unrest,” she said.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said police were still patrolling the areas that were affected by the protests.

“Crime Intelligence members are busy trying to identify the perpetrators. A case of public violence was opened for further investigation. We appeal to the members of the community to assist in identifying these perpetrators,” said Zwane.

Witness: ‘Cops shot at people randomly’[_id]=49543

‘Cops shot at people randomly’
23 Oct 2010
Thamsanqa Magubane

THE ability of the police to handle crowds has been called into question
after their attempts to quell demonstrations by Jika Joe residents on
Thursday night deteriorated into anarchical violence that left scores
injured and property extensively damaged.

The police were called in after the community started demonstrating when
a resident, Mndeni Zuma (33), a private security guard, was shot dead at
the gate of the settlement, allegedly by a Msunduzi Municipality
security guard.

Residents living close to the informal settlement were awakened by the
noise of stun grenades and police firing rubber bullets to disperse a
mob who were baying for the blood of council guards.

The residents blockaded a section of Masukwana Street, burning rubbish
and pelting the police with stones.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said the chaos was
caused by Zuma’s killing. She said Zuma suffered gunshot wound to the

Jeevan said an investigation found that earlier in the day, at about 5
pm, two security guards were on duty at a municipal site when they were
attacked by a group of eight men from the area.

The guards called for back-up and at about 8?pm the same group came back
with another group of males armed with firearms, sticks and stones.

“The much larger group again attacked the security guards, demanding
that they leave the site.

“One of the group members then fired shots at the security guards,
forcing them to retaliate.”.

Jeevan said that during the exchange of gunfire, one of the males in the
group was shot and killed.

This angered the community, who started demonstrating and throwing
rubbish on the street.

Bheki Dladla, a community leader, said that after he failed to calm the
residents, he decided to call the councillor for the area, Peter Green,
and the police.

He said: “When the police arrived, they simply antagonised the community
further. Instead of calling for them to disperse, they started shooting

Three people sustained serious leg injuries and one was taken to
hospital with a bullet lodged in her leg.

Dladla said he too was victimised by the police.

Two cars, one belonging to him and another borrowed from a relative,
were extensively damaged by the police.

An eyewitness said three police officers seemed to be enjoying
themselves breaking the windows.

Green, who was also at the scene, blamed the police for the violence.

“I believe the police are not properly trained to handle crowds. I
witnessed them shooting randomly at the people,” he said.

A case of public violence has been opened and is being investigated.

Witness: City reneges on RDP vow[_id]=25117

City reneges on RDP vow
10 May 2009
thamsanqa magubane

THE residents of the Yellowwood Road settlement, also called Ghost Town, in Woodlands have threatened Msunduzi Municipality with legal action after municipal police apparently demolished their shacks.

The residents reside on land that is legally owned by the municipality. They said on Wednesday that municipal security officers allegedly demolished their informal settlement in an attempt to remove them from the land.

They also allege that they were not given any notice to vacate the area or any court order demanding that they move.

They said they decided to approach the high court to prevent the municipality from taking any further action to remove them from the area.

Speaking through their lawyer Ishana Hassim, the residents said they have written a formal letter to the municipality to prevent them from any further action against the people residing in that area.

Hassim said the municipality destroyed homes, furniture and food. Furthermore, it failed to provide the residents with alternative accommodation so they had to spend a cold night in makeshift shelters.

She said the people resided on the municipal land only because they had been promised that RDP houses would be built for them on that land.

Hassim stressed that what the municipality did was wrong.

“The sad thing is that these people lost half of what they previously owned because of the damage that had been done to their property and belongings.”

Hassim added that the municipal police were careless in their actions as they injured a lot of people when they were destroying the houses because they destroyed homes while there were still people inside.

She said, “A lot of people were injured and many more were affected. And among those who were affected were the elderly and sick babies.”

She confirmed that they had written a formal letter demanding that the municipality cease its actions of removing the people in the area.

Hassim said should the municipality fail to agree to their request, they will seek a court order preventing it from further removal of people in the area and furthermore to compensate the people for what they lost.

The municipality was contacted for comment, but did not respond by the time of going to press.