DA Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga during an oversight inspection at an illegally occupied housing project in Olievenhoutbosch, Centurion. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
DA Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga during an oversight inspection at an illegally occupied housing project in Olievenhoutbosch, Centurion. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Illegal invasions thwart bid to tackle Gauteng housing backlog

By James Mahlokwane Time of article published Apr 20, 2021

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Pretoria - Gauteng will never win the battle against the housing backlog as long as people are allowed to invade land and allocate themselves incomplete housing projects.

This is according to a DA entourage which visited RDP houses and flats in Olievenhoutbosch and family units in Saulsville hostels – all of which have been invaded.

The City of Tshwane would write another letter to Lebogang Maile, the MEC for Co-operative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlement. In the letter, the City will be calling for improved integration and partnership between the provincial department and the metros.

The DA senior officials said the provincial government had now spent millions on several developments, which were occupied by people it could not evict without providing an alternative place to live, thus defeating ambitions to crack the backlog.

DA provincial leader Solly Msimanga said it was of concern that Maile’s department had court eviction orders dating back to 2018 for some of the invaded developments, but they have not been enforced.

The team went to Olievenhoutbosch Extension 27 where RDP houses have been occupied illegally. Disturbingly, they discovered that an empty piece of land that was earmarked for 2 000 RDP houses has just been invaded by a mushrooming informal settlement.

In Extension 36, a housing project of 919 flats was invaded earlier this year. They do not have water and electricity.

Lobisa Ngobeni, a resident of the only block that was complete, said: “We were allocated these flats legally. Now we are fighting with the people who invaded the units illegally because they say we think we are special since our block has bulk services. They also accuse us of buying the flats for R40 000, and that is not true.”

In Saulsville, the team could not go inside the 172 family units without protection. The houses had been invaded mostly by people involved in the taxi industry.

Msimanga said it was a shame because the units were meant to accommodate people who lived in the hostels for many years.

“Now we have people circumventing processes. So if I know I want a house but I am not registered on any list, I go and invade. For you to remove me you must now give me a house or a space somewhere.

“Just like that I have skipped everybody on the list since 1996. We want to know from the provincial government what they are going to do with the court orders they are sitting with.”

Tshwane MMC for Housing and Human Settlements Mpho Mhelape-Zimu, who was part of the group, said: “We need to have better relations between local government and the province because these are provincial projects. The City did not have any say in it even when invasions were happening.”

The party’s provincial spokesperson for human settlements, Mervyn Cirota, said the department needed to make the waiting list more transparent and start allocating each beneficiary immediately when the house or unit was completed because the longer they stayed unoccupied the more likely it was that they would be invaded.

Msimanga said: “All the three spheres of government must work together. They should stop politicising the matter, but make sure that we deal with illegal invasions, including houses that have been occupied illegally.”

Pretoria News

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