Cape Town – Politics is believed to be fuelling the recent spike in land invasions in the City of Cape Town, the city said on Saturday.
A visible increase in the number of attempted land invasions had been noticed over the past two months, especially over weekends, and the city’s anti-land invasion unit and law enforcement agencies had been on high alert, also especially over weekends, sometimes monitoring certain hotspots every two hours every night to prevent the illegal erection of structures, mayoral committee member for human settlements Benedicta van Minnen said.
This followed repeated land invasion attempts across the city, including in the areas of Dunoon, Retreat, Parkwood, Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, and the Steenbras Dam. Many of the attempted invasions had occurred concurrently, which had strained the city’s resources, she said.
“On a daily basis we are intricately involved in service delivery across the city. We engage with our residents and are active in our communities and therefore we understand the housing need but we simply cannot allow land invasions to occur.”
The spread of informal settlements as a result of the illegal occupation of land placed an enormous strain on the city’s resources, and land which had been invaded became a fire and flood risk.
Much of this land was not suitable for habitation. For instance, a settlement would form on a dump site or in a wetland which meant that the installation of services such as taps, full-flush toilets, and electricity was impossible.
Other invasions occurred on private land. The city was prohibited from providing services on such land without the permission of the landowner.
“In an effort to provide services, we then have to look for pockets of city-owned adjacent land to install as many services as possible but this is not a sustainable situation. The unplanned proliferation of informal settlements is to the detriment of our most vulnerable residents.
“We will therefore continue to do everything in our power and within the law to prevent land invasions,” Van Minnen said.
“As municipal elections loom, we are very aware of the influence that politics is having on increased occurrences of attempted land invasions. We ask all political parties to act responsibly and to think about the longer-term health and sustainability of our city.
“I maintain that those who are urging residents to act illegally by invading land should start taking responsibility for the negative consequences that are born from illegal land invasions.
“Our city staff will continue to monitor various hotspots across the metro. We will not allow any orchestrated efforts to divide our resources in an attempt to destabilise the work that our staff do. Our actions might not always be popular, but as a local government we are faced with many tough choices and we must consider what is in the broader interest of the city. I thank our staff for the work that they are doing under very difficult circumstances.
“I also urge private landowners to ensure that they monitor their property and take the necessary precautions to prevent the illegal occupation of land.
“We are utterly committed to improving the lives of our most vulnerable residents, but the need is acute and we must apply fairness and work according to the law and council process in our endeavours to assist our residents,” Van Minnen said.