Concerned residents met with the Duzi CPF last week and among themselves over the weekend to find a way forward in dealing with the issue.
Residents now say they do not feel comfortable leaving their homes to go on holiday and are concerned about how their quality of life will be affected if something is not done urgently to remedy the situation.
Resident Sewraj Girdhurparsadh said the vagrants had moved from the old railway station to the N3 servitude, as well as a vacant property and into the forest between Chalet Drive and Forest Lane.
“We had an onsite resident meeting on Sunday so residents could see and gauge for themselves the urgency of action required. It was resolved that two resident attorneys would attempt to make contact with the land owner during the course of the week regarding the vagrants on his property and assist him in going forward to legally obtain an eviction order,” said Girdhurparsadh.
Residents expect to get feedback by Friday, if not earlier, on the matter.
Hilton SAPS has also been called in to assist with removing vagrants. According to Girdhurparsadh, police picked up bags lying around the area but did not find the vagrants. He said a worrying factor that emerged during the CPF meeting was once an informal dwelling has been erected for more than 12-24 hours, a court order is required to evict the squatter.
Craig Millar, Ward 6 Councillor, said two issues of vagrants were brought to his attention.
“There has been a lack of response from our municipality in caring for properties with overgrown vegetation that is contributing to the problem. I have met with the uMgeni Municipality health services to discuss the issue. Part of the problem is the absentee land owner who we are unable to get in touch with. I have spoken to the municipality about the issue and voiced our concerns. SAPS is also involved, however, the vagrants were not onsite during their inspection. I will continue to engage with the relevant authorities and the community to find a solution,” said Miller.
Margaret Joubert, a resident from Hilton Drive, said the issue needed to be addressed urgently.
“I can smell smoke in the evenings emanating from there and I just hate to think if the forest had to catch on fire,” she said.
Another resident who wished to remain anonymous said this was a nationwide issue.
“We need to deal with invasions from the beginning. Also crime could increase as a result of these invasions. It is also exciting to see how our community has come together as a brotherhood to address the problem,” said the resident.
Thando Mgaga, uMngeni Municipality Communications Manager, said they had not received any complaints about the vagrants. “The Hilton SAPS will have to deal with the removal of vagrants as the uMngeni Municipality Protection Services is only responsible for traffic. With regards to the overgrown vegetation on properties, especially those left vacant, the Environmental Health Services at the uMgungundlovu District Municipality have served notices on land owners of overgrown properties,” said Mgaga.
According to Mgaga, a squatter can be removed if a written complaint is received and there is a formal contravention notice in terms of Section 4 of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, No. 103 of 1977, as amended, and is served by the registered land owner.
Sgt Mthokozisi Ngobese, spokesperson for the Sub-Cluster SAPS, confirmed that the Hilton SAPS visited the site where the vagrants had setup camp.
“We are working with residents to eradicate the problem of vagrants in the area. Police will remove vagrants from the site if they are there when police carryout inspections,” said Ngobese.