Johannesburg - Bekkersdal residents believe that occupying land belonging to gold mining company Rand Uranium is legal, a community leader said on Wednesday.
“The community believes the land is rightfully theirs. They say this is not illegal,” Thabang Wesi told Sapa.
“People are there today to register for stand numbers. It is an administrative detail to determine who will get which part of the land.”
He said no structure had been established on the land yet.
The Citizen newspaper earlier reported that the Westonaria local municipality and Rand Uranium were applying for a court interdict to stop residents from illegally occupying the land.
In court papers, the municipality said it was not in a financial position to “take on the burden” of providing services it had not planned or budgeted for. The municipality said the area had been rezoned for agricultural purposes, and it was geologically unstable and prone to sinkholes, according to the newspaper.
The case is due to be heard in the High Court in Johannesburg on Monday.
The Citizen reported that over a thousand residents were carrying shovels and picks onto the land on Tuesday to erect dwellings.
Wesi said he received court papers on Tuesday but had not responded to them yet.
“Our legal team is working on that matter.”
Last year, violent protests broke out in the area and lasted for more than a month when residents demanded the removal of the municipality's mayor Nonkoliso Tundzi. They accused her of maladministration and nepotism.