Joburg experiences spike in land grabs as lockdown eases
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Johannesburg - The City of Joburg as well as the Johannesburg Metro Police Department say they are concerned about the ongoing illegal land occupation during lockdown and "charlatans selling land that does not belong to them".
This comes after the JMPD demolished a number of illegal structures in Lenasia, Alexandra and Riverlea in the past few weeks and confiscated the material used in the construction of those structures.
The City said said it was evident that "opportunistic and unscrupulous individuals" have taken advantage of the declaration that there will be no evictions during lockdown by encouraging people to grab and inhabit land unlawfully.
These unlawful acts are seemingly gaining prevalence with the relaxation of the lockdown regulations, the City said.
"Although evictions are prohibited, it should be noted that it is expected of people to remain at home at all times except when travelling to and from work, attending school or any learning institution, purchasing goods or obtaining services permissible during Level 3, exercising during stipulated hours, moving children between homes or attending a place of worship. Therefore, leaving one’s home to go occupy open land does not fall within the prescripts of the Disaster Management Act.
"We have noticed a growing and worrying trend of charlatans selling land that does not belong to them for a price ranging from R1000 to R3500. Furthermore, there are those who illegally buy land and proceed to erect structures without Council approval.
"This criminal behaviour from both those who are illegally selling and those buying land is unacceptable because some of spaces being occupied have been earmarked for future development. It further impedes the structured processes of providing the necessary infrastructure for the provision of basic services such as water and electricity," the City said.
Meanwhile, the JMPD's Wayne Minnaar has warned that harsh action will be taken against who continue to break the law by occupying land illegally and building structures there.
This will include effecting arrests, demolishing the illegal structures as soon as they are built and confiscating the material used to erect these structures, Minnaar said.
He said it looked like a syndicate was behind the land grabs.
Minnaar said the syndicate members allegedly identify a piece of land, illegally occupy it then advertise it through word of mouth, then illegally sell it.
"Between June 15 and June 21 2020, the JMPD has conducted a number of operations wherein illegal structures were removed. This included the removal of pegs or markings, where ground was purchased illegally.
"On 15 June 2020, two shacks were demolished by JMPD in Region C. Two more were demolished on 16 June 2020. On the same day, there were also shacks demolished in Region E. From 17 June up to 21 June, JMPD demolished a further sixty-five shacks in Region G.
"These illegal land occupations hamper growth and development in the City. In addition, the operations of demolishing illegal structures diverts the JMPD from other law enforcement operations.
"The JMPD will continue to intensify its efforts in ensuring that this brazen and disorderly conduct of illegally occupying land in the City is curbed," Minnaar said.