MEC of Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela. Picture: Michael Walker/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Cape Town - Land invasions are costly and resource intensive, Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said in an interview with Weekend Argus.

“They are very costly, not only in time but resources as well. It means those people who are not even on the waiting list now compel you to provide alternative accommodation at the expense of those who had been waiting for years - so it is very costly in a number of ways,” he said.

The department could not specify in monetary terms how much land invasions cost.

Political influence, improper allocation of housing opportunities and the call to expropriate land without compensation have been cited as the reason for the 87 housing protests seen across the province since March.

Areas such as Dunoon, Vrygrond, Hermanus, Mitchells Plain, Parkwood, Ocean View, Gugulethu and Gansbaai have been marred by protests, violence, looting and destruction of property.

However, Madikizela told Weekend Argus that while many protests stemmed from informal settlements, it was incorrect to assume that informal settlement dwellers needed to be prioritised over backyarders and farmworkers.

People had to realise that there would not be enough houses for the 575000 families waiting for housing opportunities.

“We will never have enough resources to build houses for everyone who needs it, so it is very important that the principle of first come, first served is applied,” he said.

Currently, the department could provide only 18000 housing opportunities a year.

Madikizela said his department had met with 25 municipalities to come up with a plan to curb protests by “allocating housing opportunities in line with the housing demand database”.

Earlier this week in a press briefing, Madikizela said the recent spate of housing protests was “just the tip of the iceberg”.

“Land invasion protests will only escalate as we draw closer to elections.

“But of course there are other reasons we are seeing these protest actions.

“The first is the motion to expropriate land without compensation.

“Many people interpret it as a right to just grab any land,” Madikizela said.

Earlier this week, law enforcement agencies demolished a number of structures in Khayelitsha and Makhaza.

Xolisa Mgnxunyeni from Khayelitsha had his home torn down in the eviction.

“We moved to this vacant land because we need space to live, the government has been making empty promises and it is time for us to take the land because we need houses.

“While they earn big money and live in fancy houses, we have to pay huge rental to other people who also live in the informal settlement and that is just not fair,” said Mngxunyeni.

A new informal settlement has sprung up along Landsdowne Road near Hazeldean while pegs have been put up along Jakes Gerwel Drive near the R300 offramp.

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Weekend Argus