City forks out R170.8m more for security in the fight against Cape land invasions
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Cape Town – The City of Cape Town’s council approved an additional R170.8 million allocation for additional security to protect City land against occupiers.
This comes as part of the 2021/22 budget and to prevent residents from placing themselves in danger when attempting to settle on unsuitable land.
According to City, the spate of unlawful occupations has led to the establishment of 54 new settlements of various sizes across the city since the start of the national Covid-19 lockdowns from March 2020.
The City also bemoaned how a subsequent court ruling, which is being challenged, has impacted on its efforts to prevent unlawful occupation.
"More than R300 million is estimated to be required were the City able to service the newly unlawfully occupied areas, where it is possible to do so and 70% of the unlawful occupations have occurred on unsuitable land. City assessments continue.
“This brings the total budget allocated for protecting City land to prevent the negative fall outs of unlawful occupation to approximately R252 million in the new financial year,” the City said.
“Unlawful occupation carries great health and safety risks for those who occupy unsuitable land. It is also a threat to planned projects, programmes and the future development of Cape Town as a whole.”
“Many new settlements are demanding immediate service provision, despite the fact that most were created on unsuitable land.”
Mayco Member for Human Settlements, Malusi Booi, said that the majority of the unlawful occupations have been driven by “shack-farming” and illegal electricity connection syndicates.
“In addition, many of the unlawful occupations have been politically instigated. As we can see again with the recent flooding, these instigators are nowhere to be seen when the flooding starts.
“The City does everything in its power to pre-emptively protect municipal-owned land earmarked for community use, housing and bulk services,” he said.
“As a society, we must discourage unlawful occupations in general, and especially where it is dangerous for illegal occupants and surrounding communities alike.”
Booi said that they remain committed to protecting the rightful beneficiaries of affordable housing opportunities and to prevent situations where earmarked projects and beneficiaries suffer as a result of limited public funds being diverted to newly invaded areas.
“Recent unlawful occupations have further impacted on biodiversity land and river systems. Local government cannot solve the great need for affordable accommodation on its own. It takes all three spheres of government, the private sector, and residents working with us,” he said.
“Urgent policy and legislative reforms are needed to address the major obstacles to human settlements delivery, which include unlawful occupations, national government budget cuts, a weak national economy and regulatory red tape.”
He added that the City’s Human Settlements Directorate spent 98% of its Urban Settlement Development Grant capital budget in the 2019/2020 financial year, despite the Covid-19 impact.
"The City’s Human Settlements Strategy, which is serving before council this week, contains a profound shift to enable the greater provision of affordable housing opportunities, based on partnerships and new ways of delivery.
“We are utterly committed to enhancing opportunities for our residents in a legal, inclusive and organised manner that makes Cape Town stronger,” Booi said.