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Land grabs on the rise

A wave of illegal land invasions has hit the Lwandle area since last week, with residents using sticks to mark their plots.

The land grabs have seen residents invading the road reserve of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) near the railway line in Zola, land near Nomzamo Primary School owned by construction company Asla, privately owned vacant land near Lwandle Police Station and a tract of land near the shopping centre along Onverwacht Road.

Sanral and Asla have obtained court eviction orders against the land invaders.

On Thursday 4 April, the Red Ants, accompanied by Public Order Police, demolished about three unfinished shacks and kicked down the sticks used to mark a space near the railway lines. The authorities returned to clear the sites again yesterday (Wednesday 10 April).

A number of reasons for the invasions have been given, from a desire to move away from backyard shacks, where there’s apparently not enough space for large families, to the need to own property.

Some people have even cited the call for redistribution of land without compensation as the trigger for their actions.

Jongidumo Maxheke, councillor for Ward 86, blamed the surge in land invasion in the area on Loyiso Nkohla, the Land Party’s designated premier candidate for the Western Cape.

“We were in a process of relocating residents who were affected by the pipeline in Siyanyanzela and could not get electricity,” he said.

“After the meeting Nkohla had with residents, we have seen this sudden surge and it is getting out of hand.”

Maxheke condemned the invasions, adding that as an official of the City of Cape Town he could not condone it.

“My political party, the ANC, took a resolution on the issue of land at our conference at Nasrec,” he said. “We will not encourage people to take any piece of land available.”

Nkohla told DistrictMail his party is unapologetic about encouraging residents to stand up and fight for service delivery in their areas.

“We told residents of these areas if the City is failing to relocate them, then they needed to relocate themselves, and we’ll assist them in doing that,” he said, referring to residents living under power lines in Pholile informal settlement.

Malusi Booi, Mayoral Committee member for Human Settlements, confirmed the City is aware of the land invasion attempts, but said that it wasn’t council-owned land that was being invaded.

He said in these instances the City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit informs the property owners of invasion attempts on their land, so that they can put measures in place to protect it.

“The City is mindful of the acute need for housing opportunities across the metropole,” Booi said.

“We are making every effort to address this matter and to provide services within a planned and fair manner, wherever possible, within the constraints that are being experienced.”

He further condemned land invasions on both private and council-owned property, stating these actions are illegal and, consequently, impact on service delivery to other residents.

“The City’s law enforcement agencies are therefore working round the clock to prevent City-owned land from being invaded,” Booi related.

Sergeant Mthokozisi Gama confirmed police are investigating a case of illegal trespassing against Lwandle community members.

“The complainant [Asla] alleged that on 1 and 2 April members of the Lwandle community had illegally marked the land for building shacks in an open field, owned by the company, along the N2 highway. No arrests have been made.”

Gama added that Asla had also applied for and was granted a court order against the invasion of its land near Nomzamo Primary School.

“On Monday 8 April, Asla opened a case of contravening the court order,” he said. “This is after they saw people invading the land in Nomzamo.”

V To alert the City of invasions phone 107 from a landline or 112 from a cellphone.

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