Johannesburg - Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said on Tuesday more demolitions might take place in Lenasia following a housing scam in which people were sold state-owned land and built homes on it illegally.
Sexwale has also vowed that some officials in the Gauteng Department of Housing will be arrested for their involvement in the scam, which he has described as the work of a syndicate.
Gauteng government officials and independent advisers will on Wednesday begin a comprehensive audit of the land owned by the government in Lenasia to determine which parts has been occupied, and by whom.
Sexwale set up a task team to investigate and come up with possible solutions to the Lenasia issue.
Announcing the recommendations made by the task team, Sexwale said the government would not reward criminality.
Also, it was not compelled to find alternative accommodation for people who had occupied the land illegally.
“This is a problem of a land scam, fraud, and land acquired through underhanded deals, even though it has been portrayed as if government [is being] insensitive and conducting apartheid-like demolitions,” Sexwale said.
“Lenasia is not about the poorest of the poor who lack housing - it is about people who have scammed and sold more than 600 [government] stands. Some of those stands are bigger than stands that you would normally afford. This is a criminal situation.”
Sexwale said houses that were built there would be assessed and if they were not up to standard, they would be demolished. Others would be valued and sold on the market.
The Housing Department had established a nodal point to which people who had been scammed could go and state their cases, to be helped, Sexwale said.
They would probably be included in the department’s housing programmes, where they could access housing subsidies.
However, those who knowingly participated in the scam would have to declare all they knew and disclose information about how and from whom they bought the property.
Sexwale said the police had made two arrests. He expected more arrests to follow, including those of government officials.
“I can tell you that some government officials will be arrested. Government documents, or what look like government documents, were used, so government officials were involved,” Sexwale said.
“There are definitely those who have been implicated from the Gauteng Housing Department, but not here at the national department, and we know who they are.
“If there were [some here] at the national department, I would be happy to see them arrested.”
The Gauteng Housing Department was working with the City of Joburg to cut off all the water and electricity connections linked to the illegal houses, department head Mongezi Mnyani said.
He said an inspection would be carried out at each of the stands in the area. Some had been identified as being too big for a single beneficiary.
“There are already people coming forward to disclose information about how they acquired those houses and we are verifying their information and checking whether they are on our waiting lists,” Mnyani said. “When we have allocated houses we are going to build in that area and [identified] those that will not need to be demolished, we will have to regularise the illegal connections.”