Officials face arrest over illegal houses

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IOL news nov24 lenasia b Independent Newspapers File photo: Matthews Baloyi

Johannesburg - More senior officials in the Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing face arrest over the illegally built houses in Lenasia.

This is according to ANC provincial secretary David Makhura and his counterparts in the ANC alliance - the SACP, Cosatu and Sanco - who said affected residents have provided proof showing monies were paid to these officials to purchase government-owned land to build houses.

These revelations came after the department and the SA Human Rights Commission agreed at a bilateral meeting to halt the demolition of homes built on government-owned land in Lenasia.

The bilateral agreement was then made an order of the Johannesburg High Court on Friday last week.

The agreement came after more than 60 homes were demolished after the government obtained a court order to demolish all the structures built illegally on government-owned land.

Makhura lauded the latest court order that his party and alliance partners support. He said the ANC’s decision to support the halt in demolitions came after Lenasia residents flocked to his offices at the Walter Sisulu House in Commissioner Street and showed them proof of legal transactions.

Makhura said the demolitions were halted after the department and the ANC were provided with proof that these residents paid certain officials money to obtain the land and build houses. He did not want to divulge the nature of the proof given to the ANC and the government, saying such information will be sent to the Hawks for the purpose of criminal investigations and possible arrest of corrupt officials.

Makhura also said that there was a need to “mobilise the community by calling on the affected residents and all those with claims of land and house ownership acquired through these allegedly corrupt practices to submit all documents and information relating to the acquisition and ownership of houses”.

“This information will then be used to address the individual circumstances of each affected family or resident. There should be a differentiated approach to the problems faced by affected families and each case must be dealt with on its merit.

“Remedies will include various forms of redress in case of demolished houses, depending on its facts and circumstances,” Makhura said.

Despite being in possession of proof linking government officials to the illegal sale of land, the ANC and its alliance partners were adamant that there were a growing number of syndicates operational in the sale of government-owned land. He appealed to residents who bought land through these gangs to come out in the open and to reveal the identities of the ringleaders.

These alliance leaders were impressed with the latest revelations, but said they need more incriminating evidence to allow them the opportunity to fully understand the seriousness of the crime.

While the court order only affects residents of Lenasia, Makhura said they had agreed with Local Government and Housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe to also halt intended demolitions in parts of the province with similar problems of land invasion and the illegal sale of state land.

baldwin.ndaba@inl.[email protected]

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