District Six squatters becoming a growing concern as restitution issue drags on
The District Six Civic Association's Asa Salie said the illegal land invasion was a problem it had been facing for a long time.
“The City chases them out of the CBD on to the fields. Due to them taking over the land, we are faced with filth and an increase in rodents and cockroaches.”
Salie said that because of the increase in the vagrants, there had also been a a surge in criminal activity.
“It is also a fact that it is mainly foreign nationals who squat on the fields, and deal in drugs, break into cars and houses and yards. We face this every day,” Salie said.
On Friday, several wooden structures were erected on fields between Rutger and Hanover streets.
The City’s land invasion unit dismantled the structures, but on Sunday, opposite CPUT District Six campus, vagrants once again erected their homes.The occupation comes a month after residents of Zonnebloem started an online petition. The petition was started as a call for improved services in Zonnebloem and to help residents prevent squatting and curb crime. To date 1133 residents have signed.
“The City can only act against people who invade property belonging to the City. CPUT owns the open space with the biggest concentration of squatters.
“The City’s resources are severely restricted - four Metro police officers for the whole area.
“The Land Invasion Unit is ineffectual. The moment they remove illegal structures, the people move in again,” he said.
Ward councillor Brandon Golding said he was well aware of the issue, and said there had been an increase in illegal occupiers.
“The residents have a valid concern and its been like this for ages. Our displaced persons unit does regular engagements, and we have managed to get the grass cut in the area so it is more visible to see who is occupying the land.
“The City at this point can't really do anything until that land is redeveloped, because the land does not belong to us.
“We are stretched with resources,” he said.@MarvinCharles17