989 08.11.2012 Sipho Dlamini, scramble through on what used to be his house in Lenasia. Dlamini and other residents lost their belonging as the Department of housing officials accompanied by members of the police demolished houses that were build on illegal land in Lenasia, south of Gauteng. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - The “selective” demolition of houses in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, is aimed at uprooting the working class and poor from the area, Cosatu, Sanco and the SACP said on Tuesday.

“During our site inspection... we were dismayed and disturbed to see that the demolition of houses targeted mainly those owned by Africans...” they said in a joint statement.

“On the same land, leaving untouched business properties, expensive houses and mansions. We wonder what criteria were used to select houses for demolition.”

The Greater Lenasia Concerned Residents Association, SA Communist Party (SACP), SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and Congress of SA Trade Union (Cosatu) met residents on Monday night to give feedback after the visit.

In the meeting, it was agreed to ask the SA Human Rights Commission to work with the office of the Public Protector to investigate all aspects of the demolitions.

Engagements with the MEC of housing would be arranged to ensure further demolitions be put on hold while negotiations continued, and a mass protest would be arranged for the Lenasia residents to “express” themselves.

“Their common primary goal is to liquidate and remove the working class and poor people out of the area of Lenasia to make way for further property development,” the statement read.

“They believe that the presence of the working class and poor people in Greater Lenasia and their presence in the houses... poses a threat to the value of their properties...”

The housing department began destroying the houses on Thursday and Friday. It said the land they were built on was meant for government housing.

About 50 houses had been destroyed so far and another 113 had yet to be demolished. The department said it was acting in line with the law.

The plots of land were apparently sold fraudulently for amounts ranging from R2 500 to R95 000. The buyers were given forged deeds of sale with the department's logo.

The High Court in Johannesburg extended an order halting the demolition of houses in Lenasia Extension 13, on Tuesday. - Sapa