Residents from the Jimmy Carter Housing Project in Sherwood and local residents in the area locked horns on Saturday when it was noticed that areas of land in the vicinity of Nettleton Road had been cleared and appeared to have been demarcated for a specific purpose with claims of ‘land grab’ being tossed about by concerned locals.

Speaking to the Weekly Gazette, Sydenham CPF chairman, Satish Dhupelia, said, “I was informed by residents that they feared a land grab was in process in the Sherwood area. Immediately, all relevant stakeholders and role-players were informed of the situation unfolding, including, the deputy mayor, Fawzia Peer, Public Order Policing, Land Invasion Unit and Sydenham SAPS.

We proceeded to the site where there was a standoff between residents who claimed the area was cleared in preparation for land invasion whereas the residents from Jimmy Carter claimed that they had just tidied up the area. The general consensus among locals leaned more towards an attempted land grab that was halted through quick intervention.”

“It is still unclear what transpired as differing versions of the story were provided but the swift intervention and the efficiency of the role-players prevented a possibly explosive situation. Investigations into the matter are underway. Credit must be afforded to the quick acting units including the Deputy Mayor, Fawzia Peer, who was called and informed of the situation and immediately acted by sending out a team to investigate. She is always accessible and whenever we have approached her for assistance regarding safety matters in the community, she has fulfilled her duties to the best of her ability and for the betterment of the community,” Dhupelia added.

He said with the more than 25 informal settlements in the Sydenham area, the City Council has marked the informal dwellings so as to avoid an overflow of dwellers but the problem of ‘shack lords’ is an issue. “These shack lords rent out dwellings causing congestion and sparking anger between shack dwellers. The shack dwellers earn money in this way but the consequences impact the community at large. This third element stirs up a lot of problems and requires Land Invasion Unit to intervene. The repercussions of the LIU intervening leads to the unlawful protest action on the roadway where havoc is wreaked and motorists are gravely affected,” said Dhupelia.

Attempts by the Weekly Gazette journalist to contact Cllr Burne and Pappas for comment proved unsuccessful and no comment was forthcoming from Ethekwini Municipality at the time of going to print.