Illegal occupations of land in Gauteng shot up in the run-up to the local government elections, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said on Friday.
He said his provincial government had been fighting land invasion for years, and that the incidents did not only start when political power changed hands after the elections in August.
“Whoever thinks this started after election of new mayors, I can only forgive them. I did say in the legislature, when the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) made that call on people to occupy land, that I will prevent land invasions … we as Gauteng government are the authority,” Makhura told reporters in Johannesburg.
“I keep telling EFF members in the legislature that their campaign of taking land will not succeed, and the mayors should not be afraid to be removed because of this. This is about the rule of law.”
Makhura, who is a member of the African National Congress (ANC), said there were 24 incidents of land invasion in the period between June and December 2014. In 2015, there were 45 incidents.
This year the incidents increased in the run-up to the local elections rose to 63. There were 16 land invasion incidents after the elections.
To enforce the law, municipalities should have standing court interdicts ready to prevent illegal occupation of land in Gauteng, said the premier.
“The role of the mayor is to act. I call on all mayors to act and prevent land invasion … it does not matter who is involved, whether it is ANC or DA or EFF. Government needs the land for development.”
Gauteng had seen illegal land occupation in recent times, emanating from protesters demanding housing and services.
A huge number of desperate people unlawfully occupied vacant land in Orange Farm, Ennerdale in the south of Johannesburg, Kagiso on the West Rand and some areas in Tshwane. However, they were subsequently removed by authorities and police.
The EFF had urged those in need to seize vacant land. The EFF assisted the DA’s Herman Mashaba to become mayor of Johannesburg. The EFF and DA voted together to remove ANC mayor Parks Tau. The move pits their different policies, especially on land, against each other.
Mashaba has condemned illegal land occupation and, in turn, accused the ANC of being behind the incidents in Johannesburg in order to destabilise his new administration.
Makhura said Mashaba’s allegations were not true, and that since assuming office, his administration has dealt with 146 incidents and had successfully prevented possible land invasions, even on privately owned land.
– African News Agency (ANA)