Committee to probe protest

2018-05-31 06:00

In light of the recent spate of protests over land issues and land invasions, officials have requested the police to establish a priority committee on protest action amidst an alarming spike in recent months.

During a meeting with police and members of the provincial cabinet last week, police indicated that there had been 145 protest actions in the first four and a half months of this year compared to 84 during the same period in 2017.

“This represents a 73% increase in protest incidents that have grown progressively more violent. The City’s own statistics corroborate the trend. To discourage people from settling on land that is not suitable for human habitation, the Anti-land Invasion Unit removes, on average, 15 000 illegal structures and/or pegs per annum. However, in the first four months of 2018, that figure is standing at over 26 000,” says Mayco member for safety, security and social services, JP Smith.

Further mayor Patricia de Lille also noted with concern the increase in land invasions and says interventions have lead to a lull in violence related to land invasions in Gugulethu and Philippi.

“I am deeply disturbed by the spate of land invasions which at times has been accompanied by violence and destruction of property around Cape Town. I also want to place it on record that the City of Cape Town will not tolerate land invasions in the city and law enforcement agencies will not hesitate to act against those who incite violence. Land invasions are illegal and pose fire, health and flood risks to our communities. The seriousness of the matter requires all of us to pull together to find solutions that will be beneficial to residents.”

Smith continues that the City will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to attempted land grabs across the metro.

“Invaded land often jeopardises emergency and basic service delivery and a variety of future projects to improve the living conditions of residents,” he says. “Mostly, residents who invade land are the ones who ultimately have to deal with extreme flood, fire, health and safety risks when settling illegally on land that has not been earmarked for human settlement. Vulnerable people are also often asked to pay for ‘plots’ by unscrupulous individuals. These ‘plots’ are in most cases unsuitable for any sort of settlement.”

Land grabs are also often followed by demands for the installation of underground and other services which could impede the planned upgrade of informal settlements in other areas, he says.

Police have further identified 34 conflict areas. “Just in the last week, we have had protests in Vrygrond, Parkwood, Bo-Kaap, Ocean View, Gugulethu, Macassar, Khayelitsha, Robert Sobukwe Road and 35th Avenue, Milnerton, Dunoon and Mitchells Plain,” says Smith. Police and the City, has deployed hundreds of resources to sites to quell violence­.

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