Lenasia hit by the horror of land fraud

2012-11-10 18:06

The Gauteng provincial government says the Lenasia land on which it demolished houses this week will now be used to build low-cost housing.

Lenasia residents looked on in horror on Friday as three bulldozers hired by the Gauteng local government and housing department razed their neighbours’ homes.

The demolition came after the department got eviction orders allowing it to forcibly remove residents and destroy 113 properties built on illegally acquired land.

Police, metro cops and armed guards moved in with the bulldozers.

Much of the land was illegally acquired by residents during Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane’s tenure as the province’s housing MEC.

This led one angry resident to describe Friday’s demolitions as Mokonyane’s own Sophiatown.

In the 1960s, black Sophiatown residents were forcibly removed by the apartheid government to make way for the whites-only suburb of Triomf.

“Mmuso wa rona o kae? (Where’s our government?)” asked one furious resident, who refused to give his name, as the bulldozers razed an expensive-looking house with a tiled roof.

Housing department spokesperson Motsamai Motlhaolwa said the officials had warned residents against building on the land.

Motlhaolwa said the land would now be used to build low-cost houses.

Residents received eviction notices, dated October 11, a few weeks ago.

On Friday morning, desperate residents took to the streets protesting against the forced removals, but police managed to get the protest under control.

DA councillor Abdia Bennie was whisked away to safety after threats by residents.

Residents also marched to ANC councillor Paul Molutsi’s house.

Illegal land sales in Lenasia have already landed three people in jail. In July, Hlengiwe Ximba was sentenced to six years in prison with three years suspended while her two accomplices, Nomusa Tshabalala and Gcinile Sithole, were found guilty of fraud.

Tshabalala was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and Sithole got a three-year suspended sentence.

More fraudulent land-sale cases are pending at the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court.

The land on which homes were demolished on Friday was sold for up to R95 000 a plot and buyers were issued with fraudulent deeds of sale on the department’s letterheads.

The demolitions are set to continue.

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