Rights of over 400 people undermined by land invasions at R50m housing project, says Plato
Johannesburg – A R50 million housing project in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township, set to deliver 1 100 housing opportunities for local residents, has lost land earmarked for 420 of the beneficiaries to illegal invaders, mayor Dan Plato said on Tuesday.
In a statement, Plato said the city council had allocated R15 million for the 2020/2021 financial year, R15 million for 2021/2022 and R20 million for 2022/2023 to develop the Mahama site in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.
"Unfortunately, 420 families who have waited patiently on a housing waiting list have had their rights undermined as the land was illegally invaded over the weekend," he said.
The city has been rocked by several violent protests over land and housing, and on Monday police said 25 people had been arrested in skirmishes which left a member of the police force injured.
Plato said R1.3 billion ($78.4 million) worth of housing developments were at risk due to land invasions, and welcomed the commitment from the Western Cape police commissioner that the force would lend its full support to planning anti-land invasion operations with Cape Town's chief of metro police.
The mayor said he would on Tuesday meet Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu over land invasions taking place not just in Cape Town but elsewhere across the country.
"I will also be raising with Minister Sisulu the pending court case by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), supported by the Legal Resource Centre (LRC) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which aims to prevent the City from carrying out anti-land invasion operations," Plato added.
The SAHRC has repeatedly called on South Africans to refrain from unlawful land invasions, but says evictions, demolitions of illegal dwellings and the removal of people from such land should be conducted within the limits of human rights as set out in the Constitution.
The commission recently criticised the Cape Town council after a video of the city's law enforcement officials dragging a naked man, while evicting him from a shack constructed on illegally occupied land, went viral on social media.
Plato said the SAHRC’s application, if successful, "will open the floodgates on illegal land invasions, leading to a breakdown in law and order".
"The R50 million housing site lost this weekend will only be the start if this case is successful," he said.
"City land earmarked for housing, schools and basic services as well as private land that will no longer be protected, would be permanently lost to unlawful land occupations with devastating consequences."
African News Agency (ANA)