Seventeen of the more than 200 people who invaded privately owned land in Etete in March were arrested on Monday night and appeared at the KwaDukuza magistrate court on Tuesday on charges of trespassing.
Four hectares of land that belong to the Desai family from Tongaat were invaded in March.
Since then there have been numerous attempts to evict the trespassers, who continued to occupy the land after their shacks were demolished.
According to one of the invaders, Khaya Dlamini, a meeting was due to take place with the landowner, Rajedra Desai, on Monday.
However, this did not take place because some of the trespassers refused to attend.
“My heart is broken as some of us were arrested.
‘I think if we had met with Rajedra, he would not have opened a case and we could have come to an agreement,” said Dlamini.
The invaders, mostly locals, originally claimed the land as their own because they claimed it had become a dumpsite for dead bodies and a hot spot for criminal activity, a claim which police dismissed as untrue.
Desai said the family were still deciding what to do with the land, with the possibility of building houses to rent or alternatively to use the land for industrial purposes.
“My family bought this land more than 30 years ago and it was very unfair to be chased away by people who have illegally occupied our land,” said Desai.
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