Ekurhuleni to bolster fight against illegal land occupations

2017-02-01 08:30
(Image: EFF website)

(Image: EFF website)

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Johannesburg – The City of Ekurhuleni is set to launch a land occupation unit to address a growing scourge of land invasions in the region.

"At some point it just mushroomed all over the municipality and we did our level best to quell it but even brand new houses were targeted," said member of the mayoral committee (MMC) Lesiba Mpya on Tuesday.

He said the resolution which was adopted under Mayor Mzwandile Masina meant an even closer working relationship with the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department, as it would have the responsibility of training personnel.

Mpya said the decision to establish an 'in-house' unit was the result of analysis made by his department as well as the mayoral council.

"We have seen a spate of land invasions in the past couple of months, where either council-owned or private-owned land is being invaded by those who want to occupy that particular land," he said.

Mpya admitted that calling on service providers to help with the issue had become a financial burden for the city.

Budget increase

The Star reported on Tuesday that the ANC was worried about the municipality's spending of R22m on unbudgeted security fees.

These included the monitoring and patrolling of land which was targeted by land invaders between September and November 2016.

During a presentation at the Ekurhuleni Press Club on Friday, infrastructure MMC Robert Mashego told journalists that through adjustments made by other departments, additional funds were allocated to the human settlements department. Its budget went from R550 497 392 to R710 359 021 to assist with the backlog and ever growing demand for housing.

Mpya told News24 that it made both financial and governance sense to rework the current system.

"We are paying the service providers far too much for a service that can be done by us as government," continued Mpya.

He said service providers were not only called in to combat illegal land occupations but to assist the government on other projects in relation to moving people to and from informal settlements.

'A waste of money'

The human settlement MMC said most cases of land occupation were influenced by political agendas from other political parties.

EFF leader Julius Malema has made several calls for supporters to invade unoccupied land. The red berets' commander-in-chief has also appeared before the Newcastle Magistrates Court as well as the Bloemfontein Regional Court in relation to his calls for the illegal occupation of land.

Mpya believes the unit will go a long way towards fighting and preventing illegal land occupations, however the EFF's leader in Ekurhuleni, Mampuru Mampuru, said the unit was just a waste of money.

"I was even telling [Mayor] Masina about that thing. He is launching a security force to come and sweep our people," he told News24.

Mampuru said people had run out of patience on the land issue.

"Now our people are aware of what needs to happen, the issue of land is no longer rhetoric but a programme of what needs to happen. People are saying it's land or nothing," said Mampuru.

Occupations backed by 'research'

The EFF regional leader said he told Masina that he should visit those who had occupied land and pledge his support instead of putting together a unit to get rid of them.

He also claimed people were putting a lot of thought into the land they targeted for illegal occupation.

"Our people do their own research, check who owns the land and why they own it, if they bought it who did they buy it from and even the person it was purchased from, where did he get the land?" said Mampuru

He said people were promised land and they would occupy it.

"Our people don't believe in rhetoric, they are saying whatever it is our leaders are saying, let's put it to practice," said Mampuru.

Mpya said the city was currently dealing with the logistics of how the land invasion unit would work.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  housing  |  land  |  service delivery

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