Lethiwe Makhanya
2 minute read
4 Jul 2022

Invaders build on ‘toxic’ land in Pietermaritzburg, KZN

Lethiwe Makhanya

Land invasion in Edendale considered unsafe for human occupation.

Some of the houses that have been built on the invaded land.

Land invaders in Edendale have started building their homes on a property that is deemed a long-term health hazard.

The land is located opposite Georgetown High School and it belongs to the Ithala Development Finance Corporation Limited (IDFC).

According to a study that was done by Ithala the site that the residents have invaded is considered to be unsafe for human occupation.

In a letter that The Witness has in its possession, which was sent by Ithala to an investor who wanted to acquire the land for the purpose of establishing a public park and recreational facilities for the local community, Ithala said that they had commissioned a contamination assessment of the site.

The findings from the consultants revealed that the site is considered to be “unsafe for humans due to dilapidated buildings, unstable ground, open water bodies and contaminated surface water”.

“The report therefore recommended that development of the land should be avoided. In light of the above, Ithala regrettably cannot accede to your request to lease the site for the purpose outlined in your proposal,” read the letter.

When The Witness approached Ithala for comment regarding the people who have invaded the land and to find out if they had made them aware of the safety hazards, its spokesperson Sitandiwe Dimba said from time-to-time people have invaded the property.

She said Ithala has always appealed to the municipality to assist in efforts to deter them from settling there due to the risks that they might be exposed to.

“IDFC-owned property is private property and no one is allowed to use or occupy private property without the consent of the property owner.

“Any illegal occupation is dealt with in accordance with the law. IDFC has also increased physical guarding of various sites to avoid illegal occupation.

“IDFC also promotes local development and continuously engages local stakeholders to explore collaborative development initiatives. This is to ensure a lasting solution,” she said.

When The Witness visited the site last week, some houses had already been built and there were people on site busy constructing more.

When they were asked if they were aware that the site was unsafe, they said they did not know about the contamination but they were not planning to stop building.

Ward 12 councillor, Nkosinathi Patrick Masoeu, said he was aware of the safety issues. He said he is planning to meet with the residents who have invaded the property with the aim of trying to explain to them the dangers of building houses there.

“There are also vagrants now who are staying there. The invasion started about a year ago.

“That place is dangerous because even before they built we would see smoke coming from the ground,” he said.

Masoeu said they hope that by the end of July there will be no one building or staying there.