Criminals can’t call the shots

2012-11-17 11:05

What the Lenasia illegal land invasion and the subsequent clamour helped to underscore is the existence of inherent contradictions and incongruent expectations that various interest groups exert on democracy.

Amid all the sound and fury, sustainable alternative proposals have not been made. Instead, rights groups call for the intervention against illegal ­occupiers to be halted while ­anarchy continues to flourish at the expense of law-abiding citizens, who patiently wait for government-sponsored shelter on land legally earmarked for this.

But how do you reconcile that with the fact that the rights of thousands of qualifying poor people are compromised by the illegal occupation of land in Lenasia? How do you explain to the law-abiding poor that lawlessness is acceptable when perpetrated by those with resources to illegally buy land and challenge court decisions?

Since 2006, through the ­investigation and subsequent findings of the George Fivas ­inquiry, government has been patiently and honestly engaging with illegal land occupants. But consultations in Lenasia were deliberately protracted and none of the voices currently screaming were interested in the resolution of this matter.

Government was left with no alternative but to seek legal ­recourse.

The following process was adhered to:
»In September 2010, an interim court order prohibiting the department of housing from evicting and demolishing the illegal properties was ­granted;

»The applicants were interdicted from further erecting and constructing structures on the properties belonging to the department until a final order was issued;

»While the department ­adhered to the interim order, the applicants continued to erect structures and invade government-owned stands;

»The department opened several cases of contempt of court against the illegal occupiers in December 2010;

»Thirteen builders were ­arrested on site;

»After the failure of mediation, the department approached the court to seek a final order; and

»On September 29 2011, the ­department was granted an order by the South Gauteng High Court.

The court order ­entailed that the applicants had to vacate the ­illegally occupied land and remove or demolish their structures within 30 days, failing which the government had the right to do so.

The order did not compel the department to provide alternative accommodation, given the financial status of the illegal occupants.

What we should applaud here is the commitment of government to fight corruption and lawlessness in this province.

The unpalatable reality is that if we continue to be tolerant of criminality and blatantly disregard the law, the entire country will be thrown into the abyss of anarchy and criminal syndicates will call the shots.

As proud South Africans, it is not what we stand for and it will never be what we would like to bequeath to posterity.

»Mokonyane is premier of Gauteng



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