In an attempt to prevent further land invasions the City of Cape Town, law enforcement and the SAPS have demolished shacks erected on an open field near Mfuleni. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
In an attempt to prevent further land invasions the City of Cape Town, law enforcement and the SAPS have demolished shacks erected on an open field near Mfuleni. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Syndicates driving 'shack farming' for monetary gain

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Sep 14, 2020

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Cape Town - Organised criminals were illegally occupying its vacant properties, the City of Cape Town said.

During a recent Human Settlements Portfolio committee meeting the department said it currently had 1 062 unlawful occupation cases.

Mayco member for Human Settlements, Malusi Booi, said: “The City has a waiting list of about 320 000 people who are in need of housing opportunities. Each act of unlawful occupation denies an opportunity for a person who has been patiently waiting for their housing opportunity.

“This illegal act further drains the financial resources of the City, which could have been used to maintain the Community Residential Unit (CRU). The City is also losing revenue due to non-payment of the illegal occupant. The City always follows the legal processes to evict anyone.”

Booi said the City was currently experiencing a challenge with very few housing opportunities created.

“Unlawful occupants move into a vacant dwelling without the City’s permission, forcibly gain access or are left behind by a vacating tenant. This is effectively queue jumping. The City acknowledges that few opportunities for housing are created. The issues of urbanisation as well as growing traditional family structures are the major drivers of illegal occupation,” he said.

In a report tabled at the portfolio committee meeting the department stated that obtaining an eviction order is a lengthy, time consuming and sometimes very frustrating process. It said that the City had no authority to forcibly remove any occupant from a rental unit. In Hanover Park there were 59 unlawful occupants, Langa 66, Lwandle 406 and Retreat 70. “There has been a marked increase in unlawful occupations of land, largely orchestrated, well-funded actions as well as by individuals and syndicates driving ‘shack farming’ for monetary gain,” Booi said.

Meanwhile, Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers filed an intervening affidavit in the Western Cape High Court requesting it be allowed to participate in part B of the SA Human Rights Commission and EFF litigation against the City seeking further relief for evictions.

Simmers said: “In the past 15 months, the department has spent over R180 million to prevent illegal land grabs and site invasions, with about R50m spent in the last three months. This money could have funded over 1 400 housing opportunities.”

Cape Argus

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