Municipal Manager and Dept. of Public Works keep Vryheid land invasion at bay

AbaQulusi mayor, Jerry Sibiya, with municipal manager, Bonga Ntanzi.

“PEOPLE of South Africa, where you see a beautiful land, take it, it belongs to you…” says EFF leader, Julius Malema, but perhaps Comrade Malema hasn’t got this whole concept quite right after all.

The mere mention of the phrase “land expropriation without compensation” announced recently by President Cyril Ramaphosa has everyone up in arms, but for different reasons as South African citizens find themselves on opposing sides of the proverbial fence.

But it seems even municipalities can find themselves targets of land invasions as indoctrinated masses descend upon any piece of land they see fit to occupy, and the Department of Public Works recently won a court order to stop land invasions on state property in the Coronation area near Vryheid.

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According to Mayor Jerry Sibiya, the whole situation erupted when a member of the EFF lost control of a group of people that he was encouraging, in a somewhat ‘Malemaesque’ manner to settle on municipal land, which had been earmarked for low-cost housing.

The announcement of “land expropriation without compensation” by the state president, according to Mayor Sibiya, was an irresponsible one as the policy had not yet been finalised and the actual process was not fully explained to the public.

Municipal Manager, Bonga Ntanzi stated that the matter was brought to the attention of the Department of Public Works as the property had not yet been registered in AbaQulusi Municipality’s name.

“If we, as a municipality, were to intervene, we would need a court order to evict these people illegally occupying the land,” states Mr Ntanzi. “We cannot get a court order as the property is not yet in our name. This is why we have asked the Department of Public Works to address the matter on our behalf. The property will be transferred to our name, but this has not happened yet. My team from town planning has gone there and warned them that it is government land and we are monitoring the situation and remain in consultation with Public Works. The land in question has been earmarked for low-cost housing…” he concludes.

According to a report from businesslive.co.za, the department’s property management, senior administrator officer‚ Zakhele Ndebele‚ said he had received information that sites were being pegged and demarcated on the property. “There was no permission given to any individual to occupy‚ peg‚ demarcate or construct any dwellings on the vacant land belonging to the Department of Public Works.”

Accompanied by police on March 20, Ndebele visited the property and “observed that the plots on the vacant land have been specifically demarcated and pegged, clearly with the intent to construct dwellings on the land… provision has been made for the construction of approximately 100 structures.”

These structures, if built, will be illegal and the group of settlers are not within their rights to simply claim and invade this land, disregarding the law and the protocol that accompanies this newly amended section of the constitution.

Neither Julius Malema, nor the EFF, can just give you land. Land expropriation does not mean you can settle wherever you like, whenever you like.

According to Ndebele, if the land invasion was not immediately stopped‚ the housing development would be compromised. “In the event that this occurs there will be serious financial and other consequences in respect of the housing project.”

“The court issued an interdict restraining “the occupiers of portion 3 of the Farm Veelsgeluk No 171″ from occupying‚ demarcating‚ fencing and erecting structures on the land…”

  AUTHOR
Elaine Rodway

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