Mayor of the Ekurhuleni metro in Gauteng, Mzwandile Masina. File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/The Star

Johannesburg – The Ekurhuleni metro has racked up R22million in unbudgeted security fees “monitoring and patrolling” land being invaded by illegal occupiers between September and November last year.

A further R23m was needed to protect the invaded land since then.

The revelation is contained in the metro’s adjustment budget requests made in the 2016/17 financial year.

Motivating for the additional funds, the metro’s human settlements department suggested there was a sweep of land invasions in Ekuthuleni, Combizai and Mayfield.

In the report, the department said the costs of about R22m had already been incurred “without sufficient funds being made available”.

Of the requested R45.2m, R25m was for Ekuthuleni, R16m for Combizai and R4m for Mayfield. The city’s budget office, according to the document seen by The Star, approved only R20m of the requested R45m.

The Star on Monday requested that Ekurhuleni provide a breakdown of the expenditure. The metro had not responded to questions at the time of publication.

Mayor Mzwandile Masina last year said the metro would establish a special unit to “deal decisively” with land invaders.The unit would “react quickly to remove anyone who invades land”, he said.

Last week, Masina told the council that peace officers had been converted to land invasion officers and traffic wardens.

This was expected to help the metro address the land problem.

In October, Ekurhuleni dealt with a flurry of land invasions across the metro, which laid the blame at the EFF’s doorstep.

Attempts to get comment from that party on the allegations were unsuccessful at the time of publication.

But the party's regional chairperson, Mampuru Mampuru, told News24 that the occupation of vacant plots was supported by the EFF.

The DA's caucus leader in the metro, Ghaleb Cachalia, criticised the expenditure, saying responding to land invasion was a competency of the city’s metro police department and the SAPS.

“There are budgets and personnel earmarked to deal with such issues, which are in essence infringements of the law."

"In addition to that, the Red Ants are employed for the dismantling of (illegal) structures. For millions of rand to be used to guard one area is worrying, significantly because of the lack of transparency."

"The expenditure is worrying, but we will be asking questions,” Cachalia added.

The Star