A tractor demolishes a house in Lenasia, About 37 residents lost their houses as 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 illegal occupation and erecting of houses on private or state-owned land is an old provincial problem, Gauteng housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said on Tuesday.

In dealing with the matter, the department had to act decisively and specifically root out corruption within municipalities, she told reporters in Johannesburg.

The MEC said the aim was to tackle syndicates responsible for illegally selling land, as was the case in Lenasia, south of the city.

Mekgwe said the demolishing of illegally erected houses in Lenasia last week was necessary to curb a problem affecting municipalities across Gauteng.

The department was not seeking to prevent home ownership. At the same time, it could not afford to develop areas according to the sporadic erection of informal settlements.

She said this would affect the budgets set for development by the municipalities.

No families were left displaced because of last week's demolitions, the MEC said. Only unoccupied houses were torn down.

Mekgwe urged people to educate themselves to avoid being defrauded people selling land illegally. - Sapa