LAND

Implement land programmes or face invasions, warn Joburg communities

By Bheki C. Simelane 8 November 2019

People erect shacks during an illegal land invasion in the Blue Hills area in Midrand in 2018. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deon Raath)

Poor and landless communities in the south of Johannesburg have warned the Gauteng provincial government to implement promised land release programmes or face land invasions in the near future.

A court order last week prevented some Johannesburg communities from invading land in the south of Johannesburg. The communities have given Gauteng Premier David Makhura a three-week ultimatum within which to implement the rapid land release programme and mega housing projects which community leaders say he promised at the Eldorado Park Stadium in 2017.

Angry community members burn tyres and blockade roads during a protest against land eviction by South African Police Forces and members of the private Red Ants, in Unaville, Johannesburg, South Africa, 22 September 2017. (PHOTO: EPA-EFE/STR)

Two years later there is not the slightest indication that the premier’s promise might materialise. Over the last few years, Gauteng has seen a number of land occupations, especially in the south of Johannesburg, but this is the first time the land occupations seem to have been organised in a formalised manner.

We have been waiting for too long and the government has been making promise after promise,” said community leaders. “Not a piece of the land has been released since the promises by both Premier Makhura and then human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu.”

The three community leaders, Cleopatra Shezi, Tlhami Hukwe and Tshidi Madisakwana, who were cited as the second, third and fourth respondents in last week’s court order against the land invasions, said communities have waited patiently for two years for the premier’s promise to materialise but their wait has been met with a deafening silence from the provincial government.

The community leaders said:

The court order came as a shock to us since we agreed with the premier’s office to hold back on the land occupations for three weeks to allow them to develop time-frames and plans on how to implement the rapid land release programme and mega housing project.

We are prepared to continue mobilising and organising the landless majority for land repossessions. We are also consulting with our lawyers to challenge the court interdicts against land occupations.”

Human Settlements MEC Lebogang Maile said his department will enforce court orders taken out against land invaders, especially in the south of Johannesburg.

The community leaders say if they don’t get a satisfactory answer from the provincial government within three weeks, communities will occupy vacant land wherever they choose. DM

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