Cape Town's anti-land invasion and law enforcement agencies have been working around the clock lately, following a spike in the number of "land invasions", Mayor Patricia de Lille said on Wednesday.
"The city has experienced a high rate of land invasions in the past few weeks and, while we are working to address the housing backlog and need for housing, we cannot tolerate illegal land invasions," she said in her address during a full sitting of council.
De Lille said that, over a six-day period this month, City staff had dealt with 65 land invasions and associated protest incidents.
"Land invasions pose many risks, as the invaded land is often uninhabitable, posing fire, flood, safety and health risks. It also jeopardises basic and emergency service delivery."
Backyarders in Mfuleni recently tried to occupy vacant land and erect shacks, leading to a riot, City Vision reported. The shacks were later demolished by authorities,
Gugulethu also experienced illegal occupations plots of private land.
De Lille said she remained open to engage with residents who had attempted to invade land in Gugulethu and Philippi.
However, the destruction and torching of public property could not be condoned.
'Overcoming the legacy of apartheid'
She thanked ward councillors and sub-council chairs for helping to bring about calm in the affected areas.
"I have given our commitment to working together with the community and to resolving issues in a peaceful manner."
ANC councillor Khaya Yozi welcomed De Lille’s remarks on the land debate and congratulated her for her interventions in Gugulethu and Philippi.
He pointed out that many people were being removed from areas experiencing gentrification - such as Bo-Kaap, Woodstock and Salt River - to outlying areas of Cape Town.
The City said it had handed over more than 3 000 title deeds to residents since the start of the 2018 financial year.
This was compared to the period between 2011-2016, in which 11 000 title deeds were issued to residents.
De Lille and some of her mayoral committee members recently handed over title deeds in areas including Khayelitsha, Athlone, Hanover Park, Gugulethu, Langa, Atlantis, Tafelsig, Du Noon, Hout Bay and Beacon Valley.
"By giving people title deeds, we are not just handing over a piece of paper, we are overcoming the legacy of apartheid where people of colour were denied the right to own property."
Residents were encouraged to visit their nearest sub-council or housing office to check the status of their title deed.
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