Land and house invasions cost Western Cape government millions to prevent
Cape Town - Illegal land invasions and occupation of completed houses have cost the provincial Human Settlements Department more than R355.8 million to prevent in the last financial year, the department has revealed.
The department said since July last year until this week there have been 1 078 attempts of illegal land invasions across the province, with the majority recorded in the city.
MEC Tertius Simmers said these illegal invasions remained of great concern to the provincial government as it continues to impact on its ability to deliver housing opportunities to already identified, deserving, qualifying and potential beneficiaries.
“I’d like to call on all landowners, both public and private, to ensure that their land and other properties are fully protected against these illegal invasion attempts, and that criminal cases are opened against those who are encouraging, leading and participating in these unlawful activities. It is important that the criminal element face the full might of the law,” Simmers said.
ANC spokesperson on human settlement Andile Lili said land invasion was occurring in the city because the City was not availing funds in the poor and vulnerable communities.
“There is a particular political party that is inciting land grabs in the communities to frustrated projects that are on the pipeline while the DA on the other side is delaying the projects deliberately so that as councillors we are seen as not delivering in our own communities.
“The provincial government has recently stopped a project in Makhaza on Monday and I am asking myself how any of these have been withdrawn from poor communities and what is expected of the beneficiaries to do in these cases,” he said.
Mayco member for human settlement Malusi Booi said many claimed that the eviction of backyarders have driven the spike, however, the evidence showed that evictions were largely in the minority.
Booi said economic profit for certain self-proclaimed landlords, ‘shack-farming’ and illegal electricity connection syndicates were the main drivers.
Booi said hotspots areas in the city included Kraaifontein, Blue Downs/Mfuleni, Khayelitsha and Philippi.
“The City has drawn up an Unlawful Land Occupation Framework as a means to proactively manage the challenges of the large-scale unlawful occupations that have taken place. Unlawful land occupation is an illegal act, but the City will always endeavour to treat the human needs that underline this activity,” he said.
Booi said the City’s response to unlawful land occupations was made challenging by the extensive responsibilities placed on local government to act as the final provider of all basic services and housing needs, without the supporting levers to fund or catalyse these undertakings.