Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Mayor Dan Plato held urgent talks on how to address land grabs and the need for housing in Cape Town. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency
Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Mayor Dan Plato held urgent talks on how to address land grabs and the need for housing in Cape Town. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Plato and Sisulu in urgent talks over Cape land invasions and protest

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Jul 29, 2020

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Cape Town - Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Mayor Dan Plato held urgent talks on how to address land grabs and the need for housing as violent protests continue to rage across Cape Town by backyard tenants demanding open space to build their shack.

During the meeting, Plato presented Sisulu with plans relating to the Covid-19 pandemic and a broader response to human settlements challenges in the city. According to Plato, Sisulu has thrown her weight behind the plans. But, despite these plans, both Sisulu and Plato acknowledged that was inadequate to respond to the need for land and human settlements for those in desperate need of shelter.

They committed to a more comprehensive plan that accommodates both immediate land and long-term needs in a more proactive fashion.

Sisulu said: “We must emphasise that whatever plans we are putting in place are for those who are genuinely distressed, and not opportunists. We will screen all those invading land parcels to see if they are in distress, and assist them accordingly.”

Tuesday’s meeting with Plato comes just a few days after Sisulu had met with community leaders of Khayelitsha and its surrounding areas to understand the causes of the recent unrest in the city.

Since this meeting, she has been consulting with various ministries and other stakeholders to address human settlement challenges.

Prior to her engagement on Monday, Sisulu had a meeting with Police Minister Bheki Cele, Agriculture and Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza and Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille to devise a plan to address current challenges in the city. Plato has since written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, calling for him to intervene in the recent land grabs.

“We further appeal to landlords who have been providing shelter to our people not to evict them. We need to practise ubuntu and make arrangements with those who currently do not have an income,” she said.

In response to yesterday’s meeting, Plato said he welcomed the minister’s engagement.

“It was agreed by all that land invasions cannot be tolerated and must be prevented. I appreciate the national minister’s support in this regard, given the overwhelming, co-ordinated nature of land invasions and related criminality.

“The minister further agreed that land invasion is not an acceptable alternative to backyarder disputes with landlords, who may not evict tenants under lockdown, and that this should be reported to police.”

He said the City had earmarked more than R850million in the medium term for upgrades to informal settlements and backyarder services, in response to the growing trend of informality in the metros and across the country.

Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said: “We have been upgrading informal settlements for a number of years now. That is not the problem.“This is a problem of political and activist instigation, ‘shack’ farming and a disregard for the law. It is compounded by the weakened state of the South African economy.”

Cape Argus

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