Trust says its powerless to stop increase in land occupation
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The custodians of land belonging to the Dwars River Valley community have expressed concerns over the “increased“ occupation despite a court order.
The land is at the centre of controversy after the Lanquedoc backyarders took the Dwars River Valley Community Development Trust to court in last year, alleging that it had “donated” the land without its consent to the Stellenbosch municipality.
Now, Chairperson of the Trust Michael Fraser, said it was concerned about the security of the piece of land as it could not prevent any further occupation.
The municipality obtained an interdict last year prohibiting further occupation of the properties, Erf 10 and the remainder of Erf 1.
"We've seen an increase in structures on the land, from an initial four to 200. We've heard rumours that plots are being sold for up to R 500," said Fraser.
He said the Trust felt "powerless" as it did not have any money to employ private security to help prevent further occupation.
"Our biggest fear is that when a housing development does take place, the rightful beneficiaries will not be able to move into any housing units as the occupiers will now have to jump the line," said Fraser.
The Trust also did not have any money to develop the land to meet the beneficiaries' growing need for housing.
The Trust was dealt a blow when thieves burgled into its offices two weeks ago.
Fraser said while the amount of damage had not been quantified yet, "furniture, doors, a computer server and the geyser" were stolen.
Police confirmed that a case of burglary was opened and it has since been closed as there "were no prospects of success" in the investigation.
But Fraser said the community had been supportive and had assisted with tracing down some of the stolen goods and information had now been submitted to the police.
"Some of the stolen goods were found abandoned by the road, " Fraser said.
Last year, violence broke out in the area after the municipality’s law enforcement officers tried to evict people from the land.
The land was donated to five communities in the Dwars River Valley by Anglo American Farms after the company decided to rationalise its land holdings in the Valley and contribute to land reform and community empowerment.
The Trust was set up to work towards ensuring the socio-economic upliftment of the communities in Lanquedoc, Kylemore, Johannesdal, Pniel and Meerlust Bosbou.
Community leader, Allie Kleinsmidt described the current mood as "peaceful".
The court has yet to hear the application by the community to declare the alleged "donation" of the land unlawful and invalid.
In an affidavit filed with the Western Cape High Court, the Housing Association's representative, Thapelo Mbasa, said that on October 29 last year the trustees met and purportedly decided to donate the two properties in return for the scrapping of R640 000 outstanding municipal rates.
On November 13 the council allegedly took a decision to accept the “donation”.
The association argued in the court papers that the municipality's decision without any public participation was in violation of its constitutional and statutory obligations.
The Stellenbosch municipality did not respond to questions.