Land-grabbers and affluent East Bank property owners on brink of war

Land-grabbers move onto a strip of land in Ext 9 close to the affluent East Bank. Photo: Sipho Siso

A potentially deadly war is brewing between land-grabbers and property owners in the affluent East Bank section of impoverished Alexandra.

A tense stand-off has been playing out for the past two weeks on the Alfred Nzo Street extension into Ext 9, where land-grabbers have moved into a portion of vacant land under the Eskom power lines, just opposite the Ratang Bana charity centre.

The land grabbers have vowed to begin building in a matter of days as they have been pegging out the area for the past two weeks, closely watched from a distance by a fuming group of property owners who said they will not allow the invaders to set up home close to their properties.

Nelly Kubheka, an adamant woman who is part of the Squatter Camp Campaign, says they are not going anywhere and are here to stay. Photo: Sipho Siso

“The arrival of shacks in our midst will seriously erode the value of our bonded houses and lead to unprecedented crime, which is already reaching alarming levels, as we now often get mugged in the streets, robbed in our driveways, hijacked outside our gates and our houses burgled,” said the group, which is led by Nicholas Malaza.

“We are already fed-up with the current state of crime, which seems to escalate on a daily basis and these land-grabbers with their shacks will make it even worse. We won’t be able to move again in this suburb once they set up home.”

Malaza added that the property owners had tried to seek a negotiated solution between themselves and the land-grabbers, to no avail. “We then tried to get our ward councillor [Tefo Raphadu] involved to set up a meeting between ourselves and the land-grabbers to iron out a solution, but nothing has materialised so far.”

Part of the group of East Bank residents in a stand-off with land-grabbers from the Squatter Camp Campaign. In a brown jacket is Nicholas Malaza, the leader of the residents. Photo: Sipho Siso

If the invaders are permitted to continue building, Malaza said they would have no option but to erect a high ‘wall of Berlin’ to separate ‘us and them’ as they claim they have been given the go-ahead to erect shacks on the strip of land.

Malaza, who runs a crèche on his property, said they had been given the go-ahead to build a park on the land and that they have the documents to prove it. A section of the strip has already been turned into a park, while fresh soil is piled up for further construction work.

The leader of the land-grabbers who call themselves, The Squatter Camp Campaign, Bongani Makhoba, who is popularly known as ‘Malema’ by his invading group, said they too had been granted permission to build on the strip of land.

Asked if they belonged to any political party, he said they were apolitical. When pressed as to why he was being referred to as ‘Malema’, he replied, “Maybe it’s because I am as vocal and radical as he is. I have no membership of any political party in this country.”

The Squatter Camp Campaign, which comprises people from backyard rooms in Alexandra who are paying exorbitant rentals from the so-called landlords, have been agitating to take over this land for the past four months.

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re here to stay. We want City Power to come and put up electricity once we’re finished with pegging the area to create space for roads and the likes,” Makhoba said.

After numerous attempts, Raphadu could not be reached for comment, neither could his close neighbour, Ward 116 councillor Adolf Marema, who was also a victim of land-grabbers in his ward a few weeks ago.

This is an ongoing story. Visit www.alexnews.co.za for updates.

Read: Rats dumped at the feet of Mandela’s statue in Nelson Mandela Square

What do you think of the standoff between East Bank residents and the land-grab by The Squatter Camp Campaign? Tweet @AlexNewsZA to share your views

  AUTHOR
Sipho Siso

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