Pretoria - “I never thought I would be the guinea pig for land invasions,” a black landowner joked on Friday after he obtained an urgent court order - with the assistance of AfriForum - against a group of people who illegally invaded his farm near Soshanguve.
The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on Friday ordered the group to immediately vacate the property of Dr Motodi Maserumule. The farm, with various portions, is registered in the name of Akubra Trading Ltd, a company which belongs to Maserumule and two business partners.
He said while only a few people were spotted on his farm on Monday, the group grew throughout the week. Maserumule said by Friday there were more than 100 land grabbers. He turned to the court as he feared that more people would move in over the weekend. Members of the Soshanguve police station were ordered to assist with the removal of the land grabbers. They were also ordered to remove the structures which had already been erected on the property.
Maserumule said he was told by a friend, who had travelled past the farm on Monday, that he’d noticed a group gathering on the property for an illegal land invasion.
“I went there and encountered a small group. There was also a single corrugated-iron structure erected. This was used as an office to unlawfully ‘sell’ portions to the trespassers.”
Maserumule said the invaders were extremely aggressive towards him and even threatened him. At the time there were about 15 people and they were clearly preparing to settle in.
“I went to the Soshanguve police station to lay a charge of trespassing. The police refused to accept the complaint.
“One of my neighbours suggested that I contact AfriForum. With their help, I eventually managed to lay a charge of trespassing. The civil organisation was a Godsend.”
Maserumule said the number of land invaders grew during the week, as did the number of structures being erected. No one had taken occupation of the structures, but Maserumule said he feared this would happen over the weekend if the court did not step in.
Armed with his court order, he said this week was “an absolute nightmare”. “I hit a brick wall with the police and if it was not for AfriForum I don’t know what I would have done.”
He said at first it appeared that the leaders were offering stands for free to the land invaders. This later changed with them charging R500 a stand. “They were generous enough to offer me a 40 by 40m² area.
“I think I was going to get this for free,” he said. Maserumule said he never dreamt land invasions would happen to him. Maseremule’s company bought the land, worth millions, in 2007. It is earmarked for development. “We will have to move forward with this because we cannot afford to have vacant land which can be invaded at any time.”