Land grabs

Xanthia Limberg, Mayco member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy

We’ve recently seen a spike in attempted land invasions (“Land invaders stand their ground,” Tabletalk, March 28).

While there are exceptions, this surge cannot be divorced from the active instigation of land invasions in the run-up to the national election in 2019.

We call on private land owners and the community at large to work with us to guard against land grabs.

In January, anti-land invasion agencies removed some 2 400 pegs which are used to illegally demarcate “plots” on open tracts of land.

In the same month, 664 illegally erected vacant structures were removed. In the following month, 4 928 pegs were removed and 377 illegally built, vacant structures were removed.

In March, 9 270 pegs were removed and 3 843 illegally erected unoccupied structures were dismantled.

The City will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to attempted land grabs across the metro.

Invaded land jeopardises emergency and basic service delivery. Many invaded erven are reserved for future housing projects, for industrial development that will promote job creation or for future roadways.

Those inciting attempted land grabs across the city do so according to their own narrow agendas.

They do not care about the plight of our many desperate residents who ultimately have to deal with extreme flood, fire, health and safety risks when settling illegally on land that has not been earmarked for human settlement.

Vulnerable people are often also asked by unscrupulous individuals to pay for “plots” which are in most cases unsuitable for any sort of settlement.

Land grabs are also often followed by demands for the installation of underground and other services which could impede the planned upgrade of informal settlements in other areas.

In addition, over the next few years to 2020/21 the City has earmarked more than R850 million for various informal settlement upgrade and incremental development programmes, excluding the additional funding allocated to formal housing projects.

Private owners of open tracts must take all reasonable steps to protect their land from being invaded.

They must ensure that interdicts are in place if required; that they follow legal procedures to get trespassing orders in place if need be; and take all necessary safeguard measures, such as hiring private protection firms to guard their land 24/7.

Call the Public Emergency Communication Centre on 107 from a landline or on 021 480 7700 from a cellphone to provide anonymous information about land invasions or for further information.