Economic Freedom Fighters Gauteng provincial chairperson Mandisa Mashego said Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s statement expressed the ruling ANC’s anti-black attitude.
“This is no land invasion but an occupation by people who need houses, who live in the backyard shacks and have been on housing waiting lists for years. The reality here is that people need land and our programme is to occupy land and expropriate without compensation. Our people are not earning enough to get a bond,” Mashego said.
Makhura urged all the province’s mayors – regardless of their political affiliations – to stand firm and react harshly to illegal land invasions throughout the province.
He said illegal land occupations would not be tolerated and the government would act harshly, even if occupiers were ANC members or the illegal action was politically motivated.
Makhura said he was looking forward to working with all the mayors in the province to fight illegal land occupations. He said he would soon hold the premier’s coordinating forum, which will be attended by all mayors and MECs in the province to discuss this matter.
“I want the mayors to be firm, they must not be afraid of being removed by those who put them into power. The role of the mayor is to act, they must prevent land invasion even if the invasion is by our ANC people,” he said.
The premier said invading or selling land “that does not belong to you is a breach of law”. Makhura vehemently dismissed allegations that the ANC had encouraged residents in Gauteng to occupy land in order to frustrate the DA in Tshwane and Johannesburg metros.
He said the Gauteng provincial government dealt with numerous incidents of land invasion even before there was a change of administrations in Tshwane and Johannesburg.
“Since assuming office in May 2014, the fifth administration of government has dealt with 146 incidents of land invasion, most of which have successfully been prevented,” he stressed.
The incidents increased from 23 between June and December 2014 to 45 in 2015 and a whopping 63 just prior to the August local government elections. But the cases had dropped after the polls to just 16.
“Land invasion will not be allowed anywhere in this province. We shall continue as we have done over the past two years to work with communities, law enforcement agencies and municipalities to prevent any land invasion in Gauteng, regardless of who is behind it,” Makhura said.
“It doesn’t matter which party you belong to – if you break the law, there must be consequences,” Makhura added. Makhura urged private land owners to obtain standing court orders against land invaders, assuring them that no invasion of land would be tolerated even when the owner is not around.
However, he stressed that it had become “very difficult to enforce eviction” by the government against illegal occupiers where the owner is absent due to uncertainty over ownership.
“We need the landowner because the private landowners need themselves to obtain court orders. The government wants to work with the owner, we can’t obtain a court interdict on their behalf, we can’t act if there is no owner,” Makhura said.
The province started implementing site and service programmes for residential and business purposes in order to address high demand for accommodation and land hunger.
The province has completed a land audit that includes all government assets. An audit of the agricultural land will follow as some urban-based farmers have expressed their hunger for land.
“We have to do something to address land hunger in this province,” Makhura said.