EFF Gauteng Chairperson Mandisa Mashego giving encounter of what transpired in Alexandra. PHOTO: Supplied by SAHRC.
Johannesburg - The EFF was at pains trying to explain why it continued to call on poor people to illegally grab land while it knew their homes would be demolished and their properties damaged, when they are evicted by the state.

The party was taking the stand at the SA Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) inquiry on Thursday, into socio-economic conditions in Alexandra, Joburg, and their impact on fundamental rights.

The inquiry was triggered by violent protests in April, when township residents complained of land-grabs, overcrowding and lack of basic services like water and sanitation.

The EFF leadership has been accused of inciting conflict among residents as it called on people to occupy land and build structures on privately owned land and properties, some owned by township residents.

EFF provincial chairperson Mandisa Mashego said while poor people were sometimes evicted and left out in the cold after land occupations, the party would still advocate land-grabs as they were sometimes successful.

“Alexandra is based on informal occupation. In fact, the history of black people is The size of Soweto was not designed to be what it is today. It expanded through land occupation,” Mashego said.

SAHRC’s senior legal officer Alexandra Fitzgerald said some homeowners in Alexandra, have complained to the commission during its inspection that the DA-led metro was unable to enforce its by-laws on land-grabs as it feared losing EFF support, which helped dislodge the ANC in 2016.

Last week, scores of families were left homeless in the township after the Red Ants, the Johannesburg Metro Police and the SA Police Service evicted them demolishing illegal structures.

Several members of the inquiry’s panel pressed Mashego to answer to allegations that the EFF was politically inciting poor people while they knew that politicians would not be the ones at the receiving end of the humiliation and inhumane treatment of evictions.

Mashego said: “People in Gauteng generally do not have houses. There is a lot of land across the province that has been lying for decades and people are aware of it. Every time they ask the department of human settlements why they are not building houses, they are told there is no land,” she said.

Cape Argus