DA claims housing backlog is a contributing factor to land grab

FILE PHOTO: Red Ant security personnel were recently deployed in Joe Slovo informal settlement to counter a possible violent scene during a housing-related protest in the area.

The DA says the slow housing delivery in Gauteng is to blame for the sporadic illegal land invasions in the province.

This comes after the recent series of land invasions throughout the province, where scores of community members grabbed land to settle on and tried to erect structures.

“The substantial housing backlog is giving rise to illegal land invasions, the mushrooming of shacks and the illegal occupation of abandoned and dilapidated buildings.

“There have been incidents of land invasions across the province where our poor people who are desperate for a place to stay have resorted to occupying land illegally,” said Mervyn Cirota MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Human Settlements, COGTA and Traditional Affairs.

Cirota further stated that the practice of illegal land invasion is also perpetuated by the recent parliamentary motion adopted by the ANC and the EFF on the expropriation of land without compensation.

The DA strongly condemns such illegal activities, saying the only solution to this problem is to ensure that the Department of Human Settlements provides decent and dignified housing to all those who are still waiting for homes.

“Our people are in dire need of security of tenure and that can only be done by providing them with houses and title deeds. The department must be clear in that the demand for land is not for rural land but urban land.

“Moiloa must fast-track the completion of the unfinished housing projects and the allocation of the completed and unoccupied Community Residential Housing Units to beneficiaries across the province,” said Cirota.

Cirota said the department has the budget to finish these projects but lacks a proper strategy on how to do it.

“The mega housing projects will take years to be completed and we must not rely on them as a solution to alleviate the current backlogs.

“We will continue to put pressure on Moiloa to fast-track the completion of the unfinished housing projects and to allocate the completed housing units to their rightful beneficiaries.

“This will drastically reduce the housing backlog and quell further illegal land invasions in the province.”

  • Firm action against land invasions

The Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, recently called for firm action against land invasions in the province.

“It is important to point out at the outset that invading land or selling land that does not belong to you is a breach of the law.

“The prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act of 1998 prohibits the unlawful occupation of land.

“This Act further prohibits the acceptance or solicitation of payment of money in respect of unlawful occupation of land,” said Makhura in a statement recently issued by the Gauteng Provincial Government.

Makhura said between May 2014 and September 2016, the Gauteng Provincial Government had dealt with 146 incidents of land invasion, most of which were successfully prevented.

Between June and December 2014 there were 23 incidents of attempted land invasions, in 2015 there were 45 and in 2016 the incidents increased in the run-up to the Local Government Elections to 63 and after the elections, there were 16 incidents.

  • Ward 33 Clr Ashley Hoods

“I totally agree with Cirota because I know of thousands of people in my constituency who have for years been waiting for the government to provide adequate housing,” said Hoods.

“It has been 23 years into democracy, but there are still thousands of people who are living in congested squatter camps.

“People are tired of empty promises and enduring the appalling conditions in the informal settlements, such as Angelo, Jerusalem, Delmore and Kanana, Driefontein and Ulana,” said Hoods.

Hoods said while the metro is faced with serious housing backlogs, Ekurhuleni officials recently spent more than R34-million on a fruitless temporal housing project to relocate residents of Angelo informal settlement.

“The metro recently spent R12.1-m to buy a piece of land deemed unsafe and dangerous for the establishment of a township in Marlands Extension Five in Germiston, to accommodate the residents of Angelo who are facing eviction.

“On top of that, R22-m was also spent on building the structures to accommodate the residents.

“As a result of the metro’s failure to follow the right procedure and the fact that the land they bought is dangerous and unsuitable for human habitation, they objected to the project and the beneficiaries also refused to move in, resulting in the project being halted.

“Now vandals are helping themselves to the structures, stealing everything,” said Hoods. [email protected]

  AUTHOR
Fanie Mthupha
Journalist

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