The community of the Steve Biko informal settlement in Wesselton were livid when they were served with an interdict to remove their housing structures on Wednesday, 2 May.
After allegedly being given permission to move in by a local councillor in January, the residents marked their land and built shacks on the land that was meant for an agricultural project of the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs.
When the Highvelder visited the area on 7 May, the police and a sheriff of the court had handed over another document to the residents, requesting them to vacate the land.
The matter was brought before the courts with representatives of the residents attending the case at the High Court sitting at the Mpumalanga Circuit Court in Middelburg.
According to a resident, the case is ongoing.
The issue of land has been a sore point in Msukaligwa Municipality, with residents invading land in Ext 7, Ext 3 and Breyten.
In April last year, residents of Thusiville invaded Ext 7 after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called for them to take the land.
This prompted the municipality to take the party to court. Council won the case and any member of the public was prohibited from marking out stands in Ext 7.
The South African Communist Party then urged the public to move into Ext 7 in April this year and the public heeded the call.
On the opposite side of Wesselton, residents invaded municipal land in Ext 3 after allegedly being given the go-ahead by the councillor on the area.
They too were advised to vacate immediately or face the consequences.
At the time, the municipal spokesman, Mr Mandla Zwane, said the invasion was illegal and the municipality would take legal steps to remove people and markings.
However, residents of Steve Biko said they were going nowhere.
“It is just not sensible to remove people from their homes for a farming project. We will be homeless,” said a resident who asked to stay anonymous.
The settlement has grown in numbers in the five months, with residents estimating there could be up to 400 households.
“Where will we go and what must we do?, asked another resident.
According to the residents, it is a good thing that they moved onto the land because they have seen a decline in crime.
“There is no lawlessness here anymore because people are living here. Criminals are not free to do their activities anymore,” a resident said.
He was alluding to the fact that the area now connects Ext 3 and Emadamini and Khayelisha, meaning there are no more velds where criminals used to target residents.
“They can come with the Red Ants to remove us, we will be ready,” another resident concluded.
This is a developing story and the Highvelder will closely follow the events unfolding.
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