Cape Town - Sanral has offered other land it owns as a more permanent home for the people it evicted from Lwandle in Cape Town, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Thursday.
“Sanral (the SA National Roads Agency Limited) has given us pieces of land which they have and we agreed we would dispatch a team to investigate the land,” she told media in Parliament.
She said the team comprised community leaders and officials of Sanral and the Housing Development Agency.
On this new piece of land, yet to be chosen, residents would be provided with building kits, basic electricity, water and basic ablution facilities, “all of those things that will make it possible for them to regain their dignity and to lead lives we would like to live”.
On Monday and Tuesday, about 846 families living on Sanral land next to the N2 highway were evicted under an interim court order.
Their shacks were demolished and set alight. Many lost their personal possessions and were left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.
They were being accommodated at the Nomzamo community hall in Strand and wre receiving hot meals, blankets and mattresses from the city.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters visited the community soon after. She said the evictions should be put on hold and the people returned to the land as an interim solution.
Sisulu visited the land on Wednesday and said she addressed residents at the hall the same evening.
“I made a suggestion to them that perhaps it might be better to find a place of longer permanence than the six months that had been given by the minister of transport. Six months down the line we will be with the same problem.”
She said residents seemed very happy with the offer of alternative land.
“We are going there tonight to finalise arrangements together with the director-general and we will be back hopefully on Sunday, having removed them to a new place where we might settle them for a bit longer.”
Sisulu said the eviction did create a catch-22 situation for her department, in the light of numerous people who needed assistance with land and housing.
“That is why I have been very agitated and angry about this because we do not want to encourage this type of situation.”
Sisulu had declared the matter a special project of the department because there was a loss of property and violations of constitutional rights.
In terms of the law, she had the final responsibility in ensuring people in dire housing predicaments were assisted.
“We must start by putting it on record that we do not tolerate, condone nor encourage any illegal occupation of land in our country... evicting people illegally is also wrong and South Africans have to get to understand you can't get away with doing wrong.”
Sisulu said a blame-game had played out the last few days between Sanral and the city of Cape Town.
She said neither the province nor the city wanted to take responsibility.
“They did not think it was a disaster and washed their hands of it.”