Tension mounts as council cuts off services

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ANNA COX

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Tension is mounting in parts of Lenasia South extensions 4 and 13, Ennerdale and Lawley following the cut-off of services by the City of Joburg to hundreds of properties that have allegedly been invaded.

In recent weeks, the city and the Gauteng Housing Department have not only been cutting services, but have threatened to bulldoze about 800 houses, all of which are solid brick structures. Some of them are worth up to R300 000.

The people alleged to have invaded the houses claim they are occupying the homes legally, and bought their properties from provincial agents.

Many claim they have receipts, title deeds, approved building plans and legal water, and electricity connections from the city.

The tension is now running along racial lines, with another group, called the People Against Illegal Land Invasions, wanting the “invaders” removed.

The so-called invaders claim that this is a group of Indians who do not want them there because they are black. They say they are victimised, their properties often vandalised and building material stolen.

But police will not act, saying the invaders are there illegally.

About 99 percent of the vacant land belongs to the Gauteng government, but, over the years, has been sold off illegally by fraudsters for up to R4 000 for an empty stand.

No one has been charged because, residents claim, the police, the provincial department of safety and security and the department of housing are not interested in taking up the case and investigating.

Barends Sulliman, a spokesman for the residents, said the government has been threatening them with eviction and demolition for a long time.

Last year, they took the Gauteng province to court after a threat of demolition, but the Johannesburg High Court ruled against them, granting an order to the authorities to demolish the illegally built structures.

The residents lodged an appeal, but Housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi told them in writing that if they withdrew their legal action, he would meet them. But that has not happened and the disconnection of services has started.

Sulliman said the MEC went back on his word and they were now desperate and threatening violence if there was any attempt at demolition.

“People have spent up to R300 000 putting up proper brick structures. We are not shack dwellers or invaders.

“If people conned us into buying stands, we cannot be blamed. We are the ones who stop anyone building shacks here. The area is now clean since we have built houses – before this was a rubbish dump,” he said.

Sulliman said residents were willing to regularise their papers, pay for services and even repurchase the land.


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