An illegally built house in Lenasia Ext 13 is demolished by bulldozers. this week Demolitions in the area have since been halted by Johannesburg High Court Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Title deeds of properties in Lenasia are set to be scrutinised as legal representatives do their best to defend the rights of Lenasia residents and stand- owners.

Yesterday, several individuals rushed to submit affidavits to the Legal Resources Centre. The documents included birth certificates, ID copies and proof of title deeds and how the owners acquired land from land developers.

The centre’s lawyer Thabiso Mbense confirmed the submissions, adding the organisation’s intention in assisting in the matter was to trace the legitimacy of title deeds of all properties demolished in the past few weeks.

“We have instances where houses were demolished while students were writing their exams. In some properties there were elderly, disabled people, women and children. In terms of the law these are vulnerable people. Whenever an eviction is taking place they have to be taken into account,” he said.

Mbense said even though some of the clients did not hold title deeds, they had purchase offers officially signed by government officials.

Resident Loisa Lebetsa-Malahlekane, who gave affidavits to the court, said she had paid R40 000 for the land she built her house on.

The 32-year-old mother of three whose house is earmarked for demolition, bought her stand in 2008 from land developer Richard Zikhali.

“If I lose this house I will have lost everything I have worked for,” she said. “My husband lost his job a few years ago and our house in Protea Glen was set for repossession. We managed to sell it before it was repossessed and moved here to start our life afresh in a new home.”

Lebetsa-Malahlekane began building her house in 2009 after she received an unsigned title deed.

Demolitions in Ennerdale, Lawely and Lenasia South ext 4 have since been halted by Johannesburg High Court Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo.

He postponed the matter to allow intervening parties and the government to engage and find amicable solutions in the demolition saga.

He said any of the parties were also welcome to approach the court.

Advocate Modise Khoza, representing the Department of Housing, warned, however, that the government had the right to approach the court for an order should there be any further construction.

Housing spokesman Motsamai Motlhaolwa said the department was prepared to argue its case.

Motlhaolwa said that after deliberations between the involved parties the government had decided to throw a lifeline to the residents and find solutions outside court.

He declined to be drawn into whether the court papers submitted by residents were fake.

“All I’m prepared to say is that when demolished, properties were checked. It is now for the court to satisfy itself on whether the documents are legal of fraudulent.”

The HRC has labelled the order to stop demolitions as a victory for Lenasia residents. -Saturday Star