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Cape Town - The “real story” behind the Lwandle evictions in the Western Cape is a political one, DA leader Helen Zille suggested on Monday.
“The 2016 local election campaign has begun. That is the prism through which to understand the Lwandle occupations and evictions,” she said in her latest SA Today newsletter, published on the Democratic Alliance website.
More than 800 families living on SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) land next to the N2 highway in Lwandle, near Somerset West, were evicted on Monday and Tuesday last week because of an interim court order.
Their shacks were demolished and set alight. Many lost their personal possessions and were left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu last week announced the establishment of an inquiry into the removals. The SA Human Rights Commission said on Sunday it was also investigating the evictions.
Zille, who is also Western Cape premier, said people had been squatting on parts of Sanral's land for years.
“Every time some are moved out, others move in. The City (of Cape Town) has been prevented, by law, from providing services on the site, except for the periphery, where they have been repeatedly vandalised.”
The city had regularly warned Sanral to prevent further unlawful settlement on its land, but to no avail.
Zille fingered people's rights movement Ses'Khona as being involved in illegal settlement at Lwandle. A visit to the site by provincial officials had revealed that Ses'Khona had an office there.
According to some evictees, before settling on the land they had been required to pay R25 each to Ses'Khona (disguised as a membership fee) in order to obtain a plot.”
Once this money was paid, they were all given a free Ses’Khona
T-shirt, in ANC colours, emblazoned with President Jacob Zuma’s photograph.
Zille said if Sisulu was serious when stating the government did not tolerate, condone, or encourage illegal occupation of land, her starting point should be to confront the ANC’s Ses’Khona “storm troopers”.
It was clear Ses’Khona was merely continuing its “ungovernability” strategy in the run-up to the 2016 local government elections.
“They have openly called for land invasions and are now actually facilitating them by identifying 'vulnerable land',” Zille said.
“Then, in return for a 'membership fee', they encourage people who do not meet the housing allocation criteria (because they are too young or have already benefited before) to move onto the land.”
In the most cynical way possible, Ses'Khona was “creating human misery... to advance their 'ungovernability' agenda”.
“If Minister Sisulu was serious about establishing the truth, she would have set up an inquiry in consultation with the Mayor of Cape Town; and she would also inquire into evictions countrywide,” Zille said.