The Gauteng Department of Human Settlements is conducting land invasion audit at the Soutpan informal settlement near Soshanguve in Tshwane, following the invasion of the land by members of the local community.
The audit follows unsuccessful attempts by the department to evict the invaders and today’s action forms part of the legal eviction process. The illegally occupied land is earmarked for housing development. An investigation of suspects alleged to have sold the land is currently underway.
The current invasion is one of the biggest in the province as the land occupied is estimated at 1 335 hectares and has a potential to yield 15 000 mixed income units including high rise, free standing, and bonded housing as well as social amenities such as churches, recreational facilities, schools, clinics and crèches. “The invasion is stalling of our plans for the development of a human settlement project, which was at an advanced stage,” said departmental spokesperson Motsamai Motlhaolwa.
“The department’s three-day audit in Soutpan will collect data on the nationality, the number of occupants; contact numbers and number of dependents. The audit will assist to identify citizens illegible for low-cost housing and those in need for immediate or alternative accommodation. It also seeks to further advise the invaders of the illegality of invasions, the proper process and criteria for acquiring state land or accessing RDP houses,” added Motlhaolwa.
The invaders have already ignored a legal notice which instructed them to vacate the land by Friday, 19 July 2012, and instead continued erecting more shacks. Numerous community briefings and engagements were also convened, during which the invaders alleged that land was sold to them.
The department has brought in the Hawks to investigate the claims. The engagements also called on invaders to vacate the land to allow for the planned development of the land.
“The modus operandi in most invasions like Soutpan is the mass assembly of unoccupied shacks on state or private land thus influencing the courts to subpoena the state to provide alternative housing or land, prior to eviction, or regularising the settlement,” said Motlhaolwa.
Motlhaolwa further noted that: “Our people in the Soutpan informal settlement have been informed that the land invasion will stall service delivery as budgets earmarked for development in the area may have to be diverted to provide alternative accommodation”. Funds have already been spent on pre-planning processes expected to be approved by the City of Tshwane at the end of October 2013.
Furthermore the city had already appointed a construction company to start work immediately after the approval of the township. Gauteng is experiencing widespread land invasions. The invaders are in part acting on advices that there are no repercussions to invading state land and also acting out of the desperation especially in the case of foreign nationals. The invaders are usually supported by interest groups and unscrupulous persons.
“We call on the members of the community to work with government to expose and arrest people who sell, and deceive communities to invade land intended for community development,” said Motlhaolwa. In addition, Motlhaolwa said: “The community should take its role as the eyes and ears of housing development seriously.
The corrupt sale and occupation of houses and land can be reported to the National Anti Corruption Hotline on 0800 701 701, or directly to the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements on 011 355 4229″