Land grabbing hits home in Boksburg

The land earmarked for building temporary homes for the people of the Angelo Informal Settlement has become one of the latest targets for land invaders.

Members of the EMPD were out in full force over the weekend out to uphold the law when two separate large groups of people repeatedly attempted to illegally occupy different pieces of land in Boksburg and Knights.

The first group of people, believed to have come from Kanana, Jerusalem and Angelo informal settlements, attempted to invade the council-owned piece of land next to Life Esidimeni Waverley Care Centre near Knights Railway Station (on the border of Boksburg).

The second group, believed to have come from Germiston Extension Five, and identified themselves as members of Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers’ Movement), reportedly invaded the piece of land on Commissioner Street opposite Delmore Park.

EMPD spokesperson Kobeli Mokheseng confirmed the incidents, saying a contingent of EMPD officers were deployed to the affected areas, where they eventually managed to disperse the invaders who apparently wanted to set up structures on the land in question.

The disrupted invaders apparently got angry and then moved to the nearby roads, including Commissioner Street, Main Reef and Wit Deep roads, and staged protests, blockading the roads with burning tyres, rocks and tree branches.

A group of invaders swarmed this piece of council-owned land located next to Life Esidimeni Waverley Care Centre near Knights Railway Station and attempted to illegally build their homes.

Police remained at the different scenes monitoring the situation during the almost day-long protests on Saturday. Motorists were at the time warned to use alternative routes as the land invaders blockaded the roads, causing serious traffic congestion in the area.

According to a Jerusalem Informal Settlement resident, who asked to remain anonymous, the land-grabbing continued on May 14.

“We spotted a group of people on the piece of land next to us busy digging holes with spades and pickaxes on Monday and Tuesday,” said the resident.

  • Invaders build structures

When the Advertiser visited the two affected areas on Tuesday morning, it was discovered that people apparently returned to the two separate parcels of land and built their structures.

The EMPD, however, on Tuesday morning returned to the piece of land in Knights, travelling in a truck, a van and a kombi. They were seen demolishing and confiscating the invaders’ building materials.

It remains unclear as to who exactly the masterminds behind the seizure of land in the city are, but a Jerusalem Informal Settlement community leader told the Advertiser there were allegations that the people involved in the land invasions were a group of EFF members in the different nearby informal settlements.

According to the allegations, the invasion allegedly emanates from an EFF meeting recently held in one of the informal settlements.

Efforts to track down and get comment from the people said to be behind the land seizure proved to be unsuccessful on Tuesday.

Another community leader, who only identified himself as Doctor, said they (the Jerusalem community leaders) didn’t know anything about the protest, saying they had to intervene after they noticed a group of people blockading their streets.

“We asked them to stop blockading our streets, leave our area and go to do their protest elsewhere because what they were doing had nothing to do with our community at large,” said Doctor.

No arrests had been made in connection with the land grabs.

The Ward 21 councillor, Frans Ngomane, was contacted for comment but he declined to immediately give his comment over the phone on Tuesday.

Land invasions

These incidents come after a number of other land invasions were reported in different parts of the province.

The Gauteng premier, David Makhura, reportedly condemned the sporadic illegal land invasions in the province, stating that it won’t be allowed.

During a media launch of the Thuma Mina campaign in Tembisa this week, the ANC’s elections head, Fikile Mbalula, reportedly told the crowd at the event that the ruling party has resolved that land needs to be redistributed, but land invasion will never be tolerated in the country.

Parliament also adopted a motion supporting land expropriation without compensation earlier this year.

A constitutional review committee has since been formed to review Section 25 of the Constitution and report back to Parliament.

No comments were received from the municipality at the time of going to press. [email protected]

ALSO READ: DA claims housing backlog is a contributing factor to land grab

  AUTHOR
Fanie Mthupha
Journalist

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