File photo: Matthews Baloyi

Lenasia demolitions became a tense political debate at the ANC’s provincial executive committee meeting yesterday, with some senior leaders demanding to know whether party members and government officials were involved in illegally selling land.

The party said the root cause of the Lenasia debacle was corruption by provincial and local government officials and some members of the party and its allies.

The meeting was also asked to find out if the mysterious woman caught on TV selling land was an ANC member and urged the provincial government to go after dubious property developers.

The Gauteng government was responsible for demolishing homes built on illegally acquired state land. But the Johannesburg High Court has ordered a postponement of the demolitions after a settlement between the province and the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

A provincial leader told the meeting that ANC members and some belonging to its ally, the SA National Civic Organisation, were also part of the syndicates that sell land illegally.

The leader said some of those occupying land were not necessarily poor, but were driving expensive cars and even rented out houses to the poor.

It is believed that one MEC, who is a provincial party leader, said housing syndicates, with the collaboration of some provincial and local government officials, were creating no-go areas.

Provincial executive committee member Nkenke Kekana, The Sunday Independent learnt, indirectly attacked the Gauteng government for bulldozing homes, saying that it was easier to tear down shacks but homeowners “invested money in their houses”. He questioned who provided the homes with services such as water and sewerage, adding that this created the impression that the land purchase was legal.

He urged the provincial party executive to investigate “the scam”, starting with government officials.

The provincial executive was also reminded, by one of its members, that the country was facing anarchy and lawlessness, and blamed the failure of intelligence agencies to detect social turbulence.

ANC provincial chairman Paul Mashatile is said to have urged the provincial leadership structure to support the latest out-of-court settlement between the SAHRC and the Gauteng government.

Mashatile asked the party’s provincial leaders not to create the impression that it supported lawlessness, but also asked the victims to co-operate with the government in identifying syndicates.

He said if the government acted against the syndicates, people would not buy illegally sold land, and that the government should, in the long term, deal with what he identified as policy gaps on the land question.

Gauteng ANC spokesman Dumisa Ntuli refused to comment, saying the party would issue a statement today. - Staff reporters from the Sunday Independent