Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Buffalo City municipality is briefing lawyers to bring an urgent court application to halt a land invasion threatening future expansion of the airport at East London.

The Daily Dispatch reported on Thursday that scores of residents had embarked on what appeared to be the biggest land invasion the city had ever seen.

Luxury vehicles were among dozens of cars parked along the road as aspirant property owners laid claim to their chosen plots.

"Any rumours that the occupation of the land around the airport has been sanctioned by government is totally untrue‚" said a statement issued by municipal spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya on Friday.

The municipality condemned the land invasion and issued a stern warning "to those who have undertaken this illegal act that they have taken a very bad gamble".

"Government policy and subsequent action on land invasion issues is very clear‚ particularly on demarcated land‚" said the municipality. "We are committed [to] protecting our natural resources‚ including the protected forest‚ and ensuring national government is able to expand the East London airport to grow the city socio-economically and attract investment towards developing the city. These land invasions are standing in the way of that."

The city’s legal services department and directorate of spatial planning and development‚ in conjunction with law enforcement officials‚ were briefing lawyers on Friday.

The city plans to obtain an urgent interdict to halt the invasions and obtain an order that will allow them to demolish illegal structures.

"Once granted‚ this will allow law enforcement agencies‚ including the South African Police Service‚ to act decisively‚" said the municipality. "There are serious dangers of these land invasions to the community as they are close proximity to the airport and its runway."