State, residents reach agreement in Lenasia land battle

2014-11-25 09:09

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The government has stopped the demolition of illegally constructed houses in Lenasia following a successful meeting with residents, Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo has said.

Mamabolo met with the Special Lenasia Intervention Task Team members last night to “iron out” issues regarding the demolitions, his office said today.

Mamabolo said the stalemate had been cleared after parties agreed to resolve the matter amicably driven by the need to bring normality to the area.

“As a caring government we are mindful that some people were genuinely duped by this manipulative and well-orchestrated syndicate in acquiring government land,” he said.

This was after a massive scam to sell state land was uncovered in the area and led to the arrest of several people, including government officials and a pastor. Illegally constructed houses were also demolished.

Mamabolo said redress would be considered for those whose houses were demolished.

“However we know that some people participated knowingly in the scam and as such we will not be using a one-size-fits-all approach but we will be looking at each case individually.”

The task team would meet until the end of the year to finalise other matters.

Then it would return to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to have an agreement endorsed as a court order after which implementation would begin.

The task team was formed in November 2012 by the former minister of human settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, following the demolitions and the large scale illegal selling of state land.

Yesterday’s meeting was attended by representatives of provincial and national departments of human settlements, the City of Johannesburg, two concerned residents groups from Lenasia, the National Home Builders Registration Council, Legal Resources Centre, South African Human Rights Commission and Methodist Bishop Paul Verryn from the religious fraternity.

But Mamabolo said although the government had stopped the demolitions, illegal invasions and construction had continued unabated in the area.

This was in spite of a court order that all illegal construction must stop.

Meanwhile, City of Joburg employee Sifiso Handsome Litau will be sentenced on December 15 for illegally selling land and two other people, David Mofokeng and Thabo Moloi, are on bail for allegedly selling land to Hawks agents.

Pastor Mandla Dlamini (76) is serving three years for his part in the crime and married couple Muzwamandla and Elizabeth Poto were found guilty on fraud charges in November 2013 and sentenced to three years of correctional supervision.

Richard Zikhali, who faces 94 counts of fraud and money laundering will be tried in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court soon.

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