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Land grab in Morula View, Mabopane turns ugly

Published Aug 21, 2018

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IF RESIDENTS of Morula View in Mabopane are not comfortable with shacks near their fancy houses, they should relocate to Sandton.

This was the view of their less fortunate counterparts from Boikhutsong who had set up homes illegally nearby.

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Police yesterday had to use stun grenades and rubber bullets after violence broke out between the two groups.

The violence broke out before dawn as hundreds of residents from the two communities fought fiercely over the land. The warring factions engaged in a physical scuffle behind the iconic Odi Stadium.

The matter has its roots in the August 3 invasion of the land by residents from Boikhutsong. They put up shacks near the formal houses.

This infuriated the home owners, some who lived in double-storey houses, who said they feared the value of their properties would depreciate significantly.

The community is made up of mostly public servants such as police, nurses, soldiers, prison wardens and firefighters, all of whom have invested heavily in their properties.

In the early hours of yesterday, the community blocked all entry and exit points to Morula View demanding the City of Tshwane remove all the shacks. The action prevented residents from going to work or school.

Ward councillor Tshepo Motaung attempted to deal with the problem, but as he addressed a crowd, the land invaders from Boikhutsong, now joined by some residents of Mabopane Block C who wanted to occupy empty land around the stadium, started gathering nearby.

From there, they charged towards the Morula View residents carrying sticks and stones and removed the tyres, tree branches and other material that had been used to close the roads.

Those in this group said they had been waiting for houses for a long time and had documents to prove their case.

Metro Police and SAPS officers who had been on the scene from the morning were forced to call for back-up.

They struggled to disperse the crowd, some members of which were armed.

Police in nyalas and on foot chased the group into the veld behind the stadium and fired rubber bullets as well as stun grenades. However, both groups refused to leave.

Morula View community leaders Bootjie Dibela and Adolf Ngobeni said residents paid a minimum of R4400 for their houses monthly and it was wrong for other people to ruin that investment with shacks. “We do not have a problem with informal settlements outside our community. We understand that our brothers and sisters want land to live on, but what they are doing here is wrong,” said Dibela.

Councillor Motaung attributed the violence to criminal elements from other wards who he said were taking advantage of the talks behind the legislation amendment to effect land expropriation without compensation. “They are occupying the land without consulting the municipality or councillors. This is an injustice of land and it’s happening in other parts of the country as well,” he said.

His ward had a small 500 hectares of land reserved for rezoning and the municipality was due to build houses there for the poor, he said.

According to the councillor, the people from Boikhutsong insisted on occupying the land around the stadium despite being informed that it was earmarked for recreational sporting facilities that would benefit the youth.

“The DA-led administration is failing the community because they are not appointing service providers to remove shacks in ANC wards. They must prevent the invasion of land because they are in charge of the municipality, to prevent black-on-black violence as you can already see,” said Motaung. However, MMC for Housing and Human Settlements Mandla Nkomo said the City last week appointed service providers to remove illegal shacks.

“Honestly speaking, the service provider will find a backlog of illegal shacks. Unfortunately, these land invasions are led by people who have commercial interests and are taking advantage of the land expropriation without compensation debate.

“If you go to these invaded areas, you will find people with luxury cars parked because they have motives to sell these yards,” said Nkomo.

Police spokesperson Captain Matthews Nkoadi said 11 people were arrested for public violence early in the morning. He and metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba had been among the policing teams that tried to restore peace.

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