5-man syndicate has 'hijacked' 100 buildings in Mthatha

27 September 2018 - 15:34 By Lulamile Feni
The Windsor Hotel in Leeds Road is one of the buildings that has allegedly been ‘hijacked’.
The Windsor Hotel in Leeds Road is one of the buildings that has allegedly been ‘hijacked’.

The government has been told that 100 buildings in Mthatha, including hotels and warehouses, have been hijacked and are now run by one syndicate.

This gang, run by five men, was extracting “rents”, selling land illegally and imposing a reign of terror, said Mthatha Civil Society Forum convener Phumelele Madikiza.

He said Mthatha was turning into a “mini banana republic”.

Nothing was sacred, not even police land at Police Camp, said acting public works HoD Mahlubandile Qwase.

Madikiza wrote to Oscar Mabuyane, who is both the finance MEC and the ANC’s provincial chairman.

In a follow-up to the letter on Tuesday, the forum met a team of government leaders at Mthatha’s Savoy Hotel. The forum, represented by business leaders, professionals, royals, the clergy and community elders, called on the state to send law enforcement agencies, and asked for a crackdown on the “hijackers”.

Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) CEO Ndzondelelo Dlulane said since December 2017 about 90 ECDC properties, including hotels, flats and warehouses had been invaded.

Qwase said more than 20 properties including residential properties and farms belonging to the national and provincial public works departments had been hijacked or “sold”.

Qwase’s list included:

  • The old Nkululekweni ministerial residential complex;
  • The EC Appropriate Technology Research Unit on Mount Pleasant research farm;
  • Matiwane Flats doctors’ home;
  • Some Walter Sisulu University staff houses;
  • Land at Police Camp residential unit; and
  • Land at Efata School for the Deaf and Blind.

The forum said some people involved in the invasions claimed to be traditional leaders in Mthatha West who were evicting legal state tenants and replacing them with tenants who paid rents to the crooks.

Retired Mthatha director of prosecutions Humphrey Lusu said: “Police laxity and inertia is worsening the situation. These people should have been arrested for trespassing in the first place. This is ridiculous. Do you suggest that I apply for a court order to remove a person trespassing in my own house? On my own property? It can’t be!”

Provincial SAPS commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga committed to enforcing all court orders and effecting arrests accordingly.

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