Lenasia inspections to start

2012-12-04 18:01
Tokyo Sexwale (Picture: Sapa)

Tokyo Sexwale (Picture: Sapa)

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Sexwale visits Lenasia

2012-11-27 08:57

A solution to the situation in Lenasia will not tolerate or protect lawlessness, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said. Watch.WATCH

Pretoria - An assessment of illegally built houses in Lenasia will start this week, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said on Tuesday.

"The teams are going out [on Wednesday]. They have three months," Sexwale told reporters after a meeting with the Special Lenasia Intervention team in Pretoria.

The team - comprising representatives of communities, the government, the police, and other organisations - was established after the Gauteng housing department demolished about 50 houses in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, a month ago.

The department said it was acting within the law because the houses were illegally built on government land. Further demolitions were halted following a ruling by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

The SA Human Rights Commission took the department to court, calling for demolitions to be stopped so it could investigate whether any human rights were infringed.

"I'm happy to say we have started the process in resolving this ugly situation. This will not be a one-size-fits-all."

Sexwale said the situation in Lenasia was problematic because land was sold illegally. When the houses were demolished the government was portrayed as insensitive, Sexwale said.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. Lenasia is not about the poorest of the poor."

He said in many cases people built mansions and rented them out for a profit.

"We are dealing with a criminal situation. [However] in resolving the situation the innocent should not suffer."

He said the team going in on Wednesday would conduct an audit to determine if houses were owned by the department, what the occupants' financial status was, and if the stands were partially developed or vacant. The teams would also do building inspections on fully-developed structures.

This was to verify if building plans were submitted and approved, if the quality of building was up to standard, and to identify poor workmanship.

"Will there be future demolitions? Most probably," Sexwale said.

He warned that unsafe houses would have to be demolished.

Gauteng housing department head Mongezi Mnyani said the team would also look for illegal water and electricity connections. Where these connections were found Johannesburg Water and City Power would be notified.

Rubble from demolished houses would be removed and grass would be cut from Wednesday, Mnyani said.

New houses

Sexwale said from January new houses would be erected in Lenasia.

"From January we are turning that place into one major construction site."

The team going into Lenasia on Wednesday would also determine the size of stands, recommend possible changes, subdivide properties which were too large, and identify properties registered for other uses, such as parks or roads.

Sexwale said the aim was to provide housing for people in, and later around, Lenasia.

"In January we hit the ground running."

He reiterated that the team's decisions could not be unlawful.

"These proposals we will put before the court. Nothing here must be seen to be unlawful."

He called on people to come forward to notify the government of crimes committed.

"What is good is that people have already started coming forward."

Arrests for fraud and corruption had been made and people were appearing in court on Tuesday. Sexwale could not give further details.

"More arrests will be made. Let me assure you there will be government officials arrested."

He said government documentation, or what looked like government documentation, was used to sell houses, therefore officials were involved.

Read more on:    sahrc  |  tokyo sexwale  |  housing

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