Land owners approach court to have trespassers removed

2018-03-29 09:30
The High Court in Pretoria. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp, file)

The High Court in Pretoria. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp, file)

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Following land invasions in Olievenhoutbosch, Midrand, six land owners urgently approached the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria for an order that police immediately remove trespassers, after they allegedly failed to respond to complaints from the owners.

Zehir Omar Attorneys represented the applicants on Thursday afternoon and told the court that the Minister of Police, provincial police commissioner and Olievenhoutbosch police station commander had contravened the law when they failed to act against the trespassers.

Zehir Omar said the owners reported that there were trespassers on their properties, but that the police did not even come to the scene.

Omar explained that the applicants wanted an order compelling police to remove the trespassers immediately.

"As soon as a structure has been erected, the person living there has control over the structure," said Omar.

Omar explained that they will no longer be trespassers and will become illegal occupiers who can only be evicted by a court order executed by the sheriff of the court.

Police

Omar also told the court that the City of Tshwane, which was also cited as a respondent, should bear responsibility because they failed to address the needs of "thousands of people living in abject squalor".

"If they (City of Tshwane) took a proactive approach, we would not be in this position.”

Advocate Lerato Maite who represented the Minister of Police, the Olievenhoutbosch station commander and the provincial police commissioner, told the court that officers responded to the complaints by the property owners.

Maite said no delay could be attributed to the police and pointed out that the trespassers came onto the properties in the evening and that the land owners only went to the police the following morning.

She said the trespassers were not there during the day and added that it was not the SAPS' mandate to remove illegal occupiers.

Advocate Kabelo Bokaba, who represented the City of Tshwane, told the court that the municipality was under no obligation to assist with the removal of trespassers.

Bokaba said the City would assist in dealing with evictions but could not be ordered to assist the applicants in preventing trespassers.

"The municipality is only obliged to act where there is unlawful occupation," said Bokaba.

On March 12, a large number of people moved onto privately-owned land in Olievenhoutbosch in Midrand and started marking out pieces of land for the building of structures.

According to Omar, around 1 000 people invaded around 6 000ha of land.

News24 previously reported that police and residents later removed markers in certain areas.

Judge Shahnaz Miah reserved judgment until Friday, March 30.

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Read more on:    pretoria  |  judiciary  |  land

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