Johannesburg – Freedom Park residents on Monday marched to Luthuli House, where they called on the African National Congress (ANC) to provide them with land. About 200 residents from Freedom Park, south of Johannesburg, were marching to the ANC headquarters, in a bid to demand the rights to occupy land on the outskirts of the area in which they live.
Sandwiched between the suburb of Naturena and the commercial area of Devland, Freedom Park still faces some teething problems in trying to formalise the makeshift settlement, where shacks continue to mushroom. Some houses been have built near a manmade stream on a wetland.
The Freedom Park residents demanded that ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, to receive their memorandum.
The ANC is set to hold a policy conference in June to discuss, among other issues, how to expropriate land for the benefit of communities as tabled in its Strategy and Tactics Discussion Document. Speaking outside Luthuli House, Freedom Park resident Refiloe Nzama said land needy residents decided to march to Luthuli House because the ANC was the governing party.
"We have been living in Freedom Park as tenants for almost all our lives. None of us here owns any land. All we are asking for is for government to give us some piece of land and we will build our own shacks," Nzama said.
"We are members of the ANC and we trust it to listen to our cries. We were given permission to march here from 11am, and we are not violent. All we want is land."
However, ANC spokesperson Khusela Sangoni said she was not aware of any scheduled march to Luthuli House and would try to find out if the party had given permission for it.
Police had to ask protesters to move out of the way.
Singing and chanting struggle songs, they were blocking the vehicle entrance at Luthuli House. Presidential Protection Services vehicles transporting President Jacob Zuma for the weekly ANC meeting had to wait for the way to be cleared.
Two years ago, Freedom Park residents accused local government of rampant corruption relating to a multi-million rand housing development and marched to the local civic centre to deliver a memorandum of grievances to Gauteng Department of Human Settlements.