Joburg Safety MMC will go to court rather than rehome dwellers whose illegal shacks were destroyed

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A man stands next to his shack as officers from various sections destroy illegal dwellings on the intersection between Witkoppen and William Nicol Drive in Johannesburg.
A man stands next to his shack as officers from various sections destroy illegal dwellings on the intersection between Witkoppen and William Nicol Drive in Johannesburg.
David Tembe via Twitter
  • Public Safety MMC David Tembe said he would go to court rather than rehome people living in illegal dwellings.
  • Officers were removing about 50 shacks in Joburg on Tuesday.
  • The removal comes after complaints over crime in the area, believed to originate from the illegal settlement.

Joburg Public Safety MMC David Tembe is prepared to go to the courts to ensure illegal squatter camps expanding in the city are uprooted for good.

He spoke to News24 on Tuesday afternoon as officers removed about 50 shacks from a patch of land at the intersection between William Nicol Drive and Witkoppen Road.

Tembe said the shacks had been in the area for a long time and that metro officers were busy with the "clean-up operation" under the Operation Buya Mthetho banner.

Buya Mthetho, meaning "bring back the law", was launched on 2 August 2018 by Police Minister Bheki Cele.

The operation involves members of the SA Police Service, Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), security companies and community patrollers, who work together to prevent crime.

Tembe said Tuesday's operation came after complaints about the growing settlement.

READ | Joburg mayor moves to declare recent floods a disaster

"My job is to ensure I do whatever I can to [prevent] crime.

"If it means going to court, I am prepared to go to court. It's the same with the illegal bus ranks [popping up in the city]. We are changing the way we do politics. We can't be pushed around."

The MMC was commenting on human rights groups which have, in the past, taken the city to court to prevent evictions.

Policy dictates that the city must rehome people removed from informal dwellings.

"My problem with the city is that most of the time, they settle [out of court]. But look at the city.

READ | Joburg flooding: City Power officials say another big storm would be a disaster

"If we demolish illegal structures, the court wants us to find [the residents] alternative housing. But if [some of the dwellers are in the country illegally], then we need to challenge the court.

"We want to enforce the law strictly. Criminality won't be tolerated as long as I'm an MMC."

And with just five days until Christmas, Tembe said there was no alternative accommodation for the people removed from their homes as he believes them to be foreign nationals living in the country illegally. 

Next, he said, the team was going to demolish illegal dwellings in Sunninghill. 

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