Lenasia South land occupiers and residents continue to clash amid deep-seated acrimony

2019-05-15 05:39
JMPD officers removing a group of land invaders  in Lenasia South. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)

JMPD officers removing a group of land invaders in Lenasia South. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)

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Clashes between Lenasia South Extension 4 residents and a group of people illegally occupying government-owned land show no signs of abating.

On Monday morning, residents clashed with land invaders, following which police and JMPD officers came to the area and removed objects used by occupiers to mark their stands. 

Hours later, after JMPD and police officers left the area, the group returned with their tools and building material to remark the pieces of land they had earlier chosen. 

They vowed to never give up until they had built their homes.

The occupiers accused residents of being biased, saying there were others who had occupied land in the area for several years now and haven't been removed.

"They are only attacking us. We are building shacks here, we want to build houses. They think we will be intimidated. This is our country too. We are going to stay where we want to stay. They think we are afraid of the police. Police failed to remove people who have been invading land here for years now and only attack us," said Mzobe Majola.

In other parts of Lenasia South, people were building their new homes, seemingly oblivious of what was happening elsewhere in the neighbourhood.

Land occupations in the area began a few years ago and it happened haphazardly without any action taken by authorities.

Some of the occupiers have built mansions including one who had built a 23-bedroom hotel on provincial land. 

They have been accused of tampering with sewerage systems, water systems and of stealing electricity.

They have also been blamed for an increase in the area's crime rate, occupying land earmarked for housing, business and recreational purposes, as well as the decline in property value.

Mobilised

The invaders said they have mobilised more than 120 people to occupy the land near the civic centre.

"Where do they think we must go to? There are people in the area who are building houses daily in Lenasia South and they are not complaining about that. We are not going anywhere, this is government land. We all belong to the same government," said Majola.

Comfort Ndlovu, who lives in Vlakfontein with his wife and children, said he also wanted a piece of land for free so he could build a home for his family.

"As an adult, I can't continue renting out a room in someone's yard while there is vacant land available here. I am occupying this land and no one will remove us. I want my family to have a home of their own. We are not worried about where we will get electricity and water from because we have a plan in place."

"Water and electricity are not a problem to source here. This land was serviced... for us to access basic services," said Ndlovu.

READ: Land occupiers and Lenasia residents clash

Businessman and philanthropist, Rakesh Daya, who was part of Tuesday's protest, is against land invasions.

He said he pays for monthly services and is calling on the government to take action.

"They steal water and lights. They have also occupied land earmarked for businesses, housing and recreational purposes. Crime is escalating since they have arrived and the majority of them are not from Lenasia South. Why can't they occupy land from where they came from?" he asked.

Ward councillor Vinay Choonie said service delivery in the area was affected by the land occupations as the area was hamstrung by constant water shortages and electricity outings. 

"About 90% of government land has been illegally occupied. I have written to Premier David Makhura and President Cyril Ramaphosa complaining about this matter. We have a syndicate that is illegally selling land to outsiders to come and occupy land here," said Choonie.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Khalipha Mvula said they have opened a case of public violence. No arrests have been made.

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Read more on:    johannesburg  |  protests  |  service delivery
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