Johannesburg - The demolition of houses on land intended for government housing in Lenasia south was part of the fight against corruption, Gauteng housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said on Monday.
“As a caring government, we have always maintained that our decision was correct, and that ours was a fight against corruption and organised crime, which robs our poor people of the opportunity to own a home,” she said in a statement.
The department's anti-corruption unit and police demolished 35
unoccupied and incomplete buildings on Monday morning in Lenasia south extension four.
“We have given these people enough time to vacate the land, but our calls were ignored and now we have been left with no options but to demolish these structures,” Mekgwe said.
The stands on which the houses are built were apparently fraudulently sold for amounts ranging from R2500 to R95,000.
The buyers were given forged deeds of sale with the department's logo.
The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) approached the High Court in Johannesburg and obtained an interdict to halt demolitions.
Last Thursday, the matter was postponed until Friday.
The department said: “The current court order granting permission to the department to demolish illegal structures in Lenasia is not affected by the current (SA) HRC application in court.”
Spokesman Motsamai Motlhaolwa said the department was entitled to continue demolishing houses as no interim court interdict had been granted on Thursday.
However, SAHRC spokesman Isaac Mangena said this was not the case and that no more houses could legally be knocked down pending Friday's court appearance.
On Monday morning, Lenasia south residents gathered around the newly-constructed house of the Lenasia south concerned residents' committee chairman Lazarus Baloyi.
They pointed out the ruins of other structures which had been demolished, and said the demolition crew had said they would return later in the day.
“The people said they would rather die than allow them to demolish the house,” Baloyi said.
He said his house was not on the list of houses scheduled to be knocked down.
“If they started putting in RDP houses then that would block people from moving into open land,” Baloyi said.
Thabo Malekete, who had received notification that his house would be demolished, said that when he bought his land the process seemed legitimate and he was unaware of any wrongdoing.
“The man took my ID book and said he needed it to register with the housing department.
“He had maps and stand numbers, on the land were pipes for water and lines for electricity. It seemed to all be legal,” he said.
Mekgwe said people needed to double check with the deeds office to ensure that they were legitimately buying land.
“The land belongs to us and we will do anything to make sure that it returns back to us,” Mekgwe said. - Sapa