An air of tension pervades Briardale in Newlands West as residents grapple with fears of an impending land invasion from the neighboring Khulula informal settlement. The situation escalated two weeks ago when people from Khulula began clearing an open piece of municipal land, sparking concerns as they attempted to build structures without permission.
Kim Fraai, a concerned resident, described how individuals congregated on the residential area’s municipal land, remaining tight-lipped when questioned about their intentions. Soon after, they began erecting shacks on the site, leaving residents alarmed and demanding swift action.
To combat the unauthorized structures, vigilant ratepayers alerted the municipality, prompting the land invasion unit to intervene by demolishing the encroachments. Despite this initial response, residents remain apprehensive about the prospect of further land grabs.
Speculations circulate that an induna or community leaders might have played a role in orchestrating the land grab. Frustration mounts as residents appeal to the government for permanent housing solutions, rather than allowing informal settlements to spread across their neighborhood. The proximity of an informal settlement raises concerns about potential property devaluation and increased challenges for the community.
Thapelo Mohapi, co-ordinator of Abahlali baseMjondolo, sheds light on the pressing need for land as people strive for affordable housing, especially in the aftermath of job losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Allan Peterson, eThekwini ward 11 councillor, recounts his initial confusion upon receiving reports of fire, only to discover the troubling reality of a land invasion. In response, eThekwini municipality spokesperson, Lindiwe Khuzwayo, emphasizes the city’s commitment to eradicating land invasions and urges communities to report any such incidents promptly.
As the battle for land intensifies, Briardale residents remain on high alert, calling for proactive measures to address the pressing housing issue in the area. With the municipality working to safeguard open spaces and curb land invasions, the community stands united in vigilance, determined to protect their neighborhood from encroachment and uncertainty.