Mayor Dan Plato’s stance on informal settlements and land invasions has been denounced as “offensive and unacceptable” by a group of prominent Cape Town residents. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA).
Mayor Dan Plato’s stance on informal settlements and land invasions has been denounced as “offensive and unacceptable” by a group of prominent Cape Town residents. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA).

'Mainly white, well-off’ residents denounce mayor Dan Plato's views on land invasions

By Mwangi Githathu Time of article published Sep 1, 2020

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Cape Town – Mayor Dan Plato’s stance on informal settlements and land invasions has been denounced as “offensive and unacceptable” by a group of prominent Cape Town residents.

They include former Black Sash leader Mary Burton and writer Horst Kleinschmidt.

In reaction to a high court ruling barring the City from removing land invaders from public land, Plato said: “Unfortunately, there can be no instances where land invasion is an acceptable alternative, no matter the situation. The social consequences of land invasions are too devastating for this illegal act to be condoned.

“Many thousands of law-abiding residents are silently bearing the severe impact of land invasions – due to the unlawful actions of a relatively small group of people who occupy land illegally.”

The group, which describes themselves as “mainly white, middle-class, well-off residents living in suburbia”, wrote Plato an open letter in which they condemn his position in a letter he wrote to Capetonians last week on the issue of land invasions.

“Your remarks, taken up by organisations such as the Rondebosch City Improvement District, are clearly aimed to warn and enlist the help of those well-off residents against the black invaders. There is nothing in your letter to suggest that you are consulting fully with leaders among those you accuse of organised invasion,” said the group.

“We think it is disingenuous for you to say that these invaders are undermining ‘law-abiding people who have waited patiently many years on the housing list’.

“Everyone knows that the housing list gets longer every year and that the chances of getting formal houses for the large majority of those waiting patiently, are nil. They will die before they receive their allocation.”

In response to the group’s letter, City spokesperson Jean-Marie de Waal Pressly said: “The devastating social consequences of land invasions affect all residents, of all income brackets and backgrounds.”

A joint media release by Premier Alan Winde and Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers on Friday said the interim interdict handed down by the Western Cape High Court had set a precedent as to how all land owners handled illegal land invasions going forward.

“We understand that having a safe, dignified space to call home is important. We also understand that in the current economic climate, there are many people who may not be able to afford to pay their rental The Western Cape government does not support unlawful evictions - people who have been rendered financially vulnerable in the current climate deserve to be treated with respect and dignity The Western Cape housing tribunal exists to settle disputes between tenants and landlords, and handles complaints regarding unfair practices and illegal evictions,” they said.

ANC city council chief whip Thandi Makasi blamed the City for the outbreak of land invasions. “The DA-controlled City of Cape Town has consistently and disgracefully failed to spend their budget allocation on human settlement and grants year in, year out,” said Makasi.

Mqapheli Bonono, spokesperson for housing rights group Abahlali baseMjondolo, said: “The ANC is not innocent. They pretend to support those who are evicted in Cape Town while they brutally evict poor people in Durban and Johannesburg. The DA and the ANC are both waging a brutal war against the poor.”

Cape Argus

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