South Africa: Attempted 'Land Grab' in Hermanus Thwarted, Says Municipal Manager

A group of people trying to peg out plots for themselves on vacant municipal land in the whale-watching town of Hermanus were thwarted and calm has returned, the Overstrand municipal manager said on Friday.

"Our people have dealt with it satisfactorily, and the situation will be monitored over the weekend," said Coenie Groenewald.

This was after a group moved onto at least three vacant pieces of municipal land in the popular tourist and retirement destination and demarcated plots for themselves, he said.

Groenewald said the group fanned out and started pegging plots on a piece of vacant land earmarked for development, a sports field and a children's play area late on Thursday.

On Friday morning, about 300 people marched to Groenewald's office and demanded to speak to him.

"They informed me they had invaded land, and instructed me to make sure that they get water and electricity.

EFF blamed

"I told them it was illegal and said we must restore law and order.

"Even the president said that land grabs cannot be allowed, and that actually happened in Hermanus this morning," he said.

With the assistance of public order police and evictions company Red Ants, the demarcated plots were cleared.

There were bouts of stone-throwing in retaliation and a municipal office was set alight, but Groenewald said the situation had normalised and the area was safe for travel.

Meanwhile, the DA in the Western Cape blamed the EFF for inciting the protests in Hermanus, and similar housing-related protests in Kleinmond earlier this week.

"According to reports, it is alleged that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are complicit in the unrest, having incited the violence which has engulfed the two towns over a human settlement dispute," said Masizole Mnqasela, a member of the provincial legislature and a DA spokesperson.

'We can't take the credit'

He said people with grievances should rather speak to their councillors about their problems, and called on the EFF's provincial and national leadership to stop its structures from inciting protests that cause damage.

EFF proportional representation councillor in Overstrand Benet Molefe said the party had nothing to do with the attempts to settle on portions of vacant land without permission, or the protests.

"Some members of the community, especially backyard dwellers, decided to grab some land in the Overstrand municipality," he said.

But, they were not doing it in the name of any political party.

"I am not going to come here and take credit for something I did not do," said Molefe.

Comment from the police was not immediately available.

Source: News24

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