Tshwane metro police bid to block land grab

2014-11-13 09:48
Large groups of people arrived in Nellmapius, Pretoria to demand they be give free land to build their own houses. (File, Sapa)

Large groups of people arrived in Nellmapius, Pretoria to demand they be give free land to build their own houses. (File, Sapa)

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Pretoria - The Tshwane metro police is making an urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court to block the occupation of municipal land in Nellmapius, east of Pretoria.

"We will go to court today [Thursday] but I don't know what time," said city spokesperson Blessing Manale.

He said it wanted a specific interdict against the Economic Freedom Fighters following clashes with metro police in Nellmapius on Wednesday.

Manale said the city had obtained a separate order against occupation of municipal land in April this year but that a fresh one was needed.

The initial order interdicted any person from unlawfully invading or occupying vacant municipality owned land.

No arrests

Large groups of people converged in Nellmapius on Wednesday demanding they be given free land to build their own houses.

When violence erupted, police fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. The residents retaliated by throwing stones at metro police.

No one was arrested and no injuries were reported.

The Nellmapius branch of the EFF announced its support for the attempted occupation.

"We found people on the land [on Sunday] who were trying to erect shacks," branch chairperson Vusi Msiza said at the time.

"As the EFF found them here, then we decided to support the community because we are all affected by this."

In an email to Sapa, Manale confirmed that the attempted occupations were on council land.

He said it took note of the EFF's policy of land distribution without compensation.

"But as a democracy, which the EFF was unfortunately elected through, political parties cannot simply implement their views when not in government," he said.

EFF ‘being opportunistic’

Wednesday's incident, said Manale, was the EFF's "desperate electioneering for undecided voters".

"The EFF has decided to compile a list of demands and grievances about service delivery in the area on behalf of the community of Nellmapius and... rent "illegal occupiers" despite the fact that... a housing development project for the area is in the advanced stages," said Manale.

"We regard as opportunistic assertions by the EFF that the disruptive land grab was a sign of service delivery challenges in the area."

Manale said the city's plans to formalise and improve residents' living conditions had been deliberately undermined by the party.

Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa called for dialogue in addressing concerns.

"We view these protests as an early election gimmick by political parties, aimed at creating a rift between the community and its political leadership," he said.

He called on residents of Nellmapius to work with the city to create an improved Tshwane.

Read more on:    eff  |  kgosientso ramokgopa  |  pretoria  |  land

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