Teams will halt land invasions

2016-04-04 12:09
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - Msunduzi municipality will launch two task teams that will co-operate to deal with a growing land invasion problem in “all corners” of the city.

This was announced last Thursday during a presentation by the deputy municipal manager for Economic Development, Dr Ray Ngcobo.

Ngcobo told the city’s executive committee that a Municipal Rapid Response Team (MRRT) and an Anti-Land Invasion Unit would be launched.

“Land invasions are a daily occurrence and are taking place in all corners of Msunduzi municipality. This ranges from land invasion due to a housing need, shack farming, to affluent individuals building mansions on council land illegally,” he said.

Ngcobo said the teams would focus on all land invasions and be proactive in foreseeing and stopping potential invasions. This would enable the council to protect its land and keep it in a condition to be sold.

Ncobo said the city was currently not co-ordinating its efforts to fight land invasions, and was reactive rather than proactive.

The city would now tackle invasions using the two task teams, which would consist of high-ranking municipal officials to take “on-the-spot” decisions, and a private team called the “Red Ants”, which would obtain court orders and demolish illegal structures.

Ngcobo said they hoped the task teams would be available day and night, and that the units would keep to a six-hour response time. “The MRRT should … monitor areas where there is a likelihood of land invasions or protests ... and intervene before these take place,” he said.

The MRRT would comprise of the mayor, speaker and municipal manager so that decisions could be taken instantly. A senior manager of human settlements, a legal representative, risk management representative and Public Order Policing officers would form the balance of the team, which would also facilitate community engagements and provide political direction and intervention in case of politically motivated land invasions.

Ngcobo said there had been a problem of insufficient information on court papers and cases being thrown out of court, hence the need for the team to have its own legal representative to advise on ensuring a stronger case.

The Anti-Land Invasion Unit would be placed under the Land Management Office and comprise a land invasion co-ordinator, investigators, peace officers and private security.

The “Red Ants” private security members would handle the demolition of illegal structures.

Ngcobo added that a land invasion hotline would be established for people to report cases anonymously.

DA councillor Judith Lawrence said this plan was urgently needed. “We have been concentrating a lot on providing land for low-cost housing, but we have not been providing enough land for people who can afford to purchase and build themselves,” she said.

The presentation was passed at Exco.


Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg

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