Members of the Red Ants dismantle a structure built on invaded land. File picture: Masi Losi
Members of the Red Ants dismantle a structure built on invaded land. File picture: Masi Losi

Joburgers urged to blow whistle on land invaders

By Anna Cox Time of article published Sep 18, 2020

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Johannesburg - Land invasion and squatting in parks will not be tolerated by the City of Joburg or the Gauteng province.

This follows numerous complaints about people erecting shacks on council-owned land during lockdown and moving into the city’s parks and open spaces. The Joburg DA said it was receiving numerous complaints from residents about these invasions.

“Communities have been left to fend for themselves against organised criminals … in cases of invasions. It is clear that the situation is ripe for conflict and confrontation to arise,” said councillor Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku.

“The DA appreciates our residents’ need for housing and we will always support plans and projects that aim to address the backlog. Be that as it may, we cannot support illegal activities,” she said.

The city, however, said it was on record condemning illegal land invasions and other transgressions of by-laws.

“Residents are always encouraged to blow the whistle on any incident of illegal land invasion. It is unfortunate that this statement (from the DA) seeks to paint a picture which suggests that nothing is done to deal with illegal land invasion in Joburg. For the record, we have demolished numerous illegal structures, even during lockdown” said city spokesperson, Nthatisi Modingoane.

Land invasions have been reported in Zandspruit, Lenasia and on provincial land along the N12 where councillors were told that it was not within their jurisdiction and they could not assist.

Last month, Gauteng’s Cooperative Governance MEC Lebogang Maile launched a rapid land response strategy to help to alleviate the province’s housing problem.

In the meantime, squatters have moved into several parks, some in the inner city, Rhodes Park and in a section of the Melville Koppies. Some homeless were removed recently by the Joburg Metro Police Department to a shelter in Rosebank, according to Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo.

They were occupying the old restaurant facility and had allegedly threatened walkers in the park.

Their removal, however, caused a rift in the community with some residents saying they had not been removed legally and had not been offered alternative shelter.

Wendy Carstens said Melville Koppies central and Melville Koppies east did not have a problem. The volunteer Melville Koppies Management Committee looks after these two sections.

Both sections are well maintained and well used by the public, she said.

“However, Melville Koppies west does have a squatter problem. This is a perennial problem because there is a spruit, hence a water source. People are cleared out and soon return if there is no constant follow-up,” she added.

Residents are always encouraged to blow the whistle on any incident of illegal land invasion.

The Star

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