An Abahlali baseMjondolo picket at Masonic Grove outside the Durban High Court on Friday, 1 September was met with a protest against land invasion.

As members of Abahlali gathered to picket against informal settlement evictions, residents from Bonela and Chatsworth gathered with placards that called for housing in place of land invasion.

Ward 30 councillor, Warren Burne said an arm wrestle is underway in Bonela between people playing by the legal rules and people who feel entitled to build anywhere.

“People can’t build anywhere because there are no services there, no refuse removal, no electricity, no water and building in such an area erodes infrastructure,” said Burne.

There is a huge housing problem in Durban, according to Burne, and the matter is sparking violent outbursts. “Violence is switched on and off like a kettle,” said Burne.

Following the eviction of residents from an informal settlement in Bonela,  Abahlali appealed for a court interdict to end evictions.

“We as a human rights organisation went into court to say this is wrong,” said Thapelo Mohati, General Secretary of Abahlali baseMjondolo. In a statement, Abahlali said that the state is encouraging residents living in formal houses to organise themselves against land occupations. The social value of land must be placed before its commercial value and democratically organised land occupations must be recognised as a form of legitimate urban planning, said the statement.

Crossmoor  Crisis Committee Chairperson, Omi Nair who was at the peaceful protest at the Durban High Court stated, “We as a community are not against housing but against land invasion. If people are looking for homes there’s a process to follow. With land invasion comes destruction and chaos. The main thing that communities are concerned about are their safety and devaluation of their properties.

“We don’t want our areas to degenerate. The land that is being invaded don’t have basic services, so crime increases. As communities we are concerned about property, safety and families. We would also like to make it clear that this is definitely not a racial issue,” said Nair.