SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) attorney Fiona Bester told an inquiry investigating removals from the land that this invasion took place from January 19 this year.
Sanral had also received a few e-mails from the city of Cape Town advising it to ensure its property was not invaded, since it had received complaints from residents of neighbouring properties.
The city advised Sanral that around 400 plots had been pegged or marked out on the land.
Bester said the “tipping point” was when the city’s human settlements director sent a notice to the regional Sanral office on January 22 stating it had 14 days to rectify the situation or be liable for all legal costs.
“Sanral increased its security but it was quite apparent at this stage that it could not prevent that invasion without the assistance of the court order and the SA Police Service,” she said.
The inquiry was appointed by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu after a number of structures were demolished and people removed on June 2 and 3 this year.
Bester said the Western Cape High Court first granted the urgent interdict on January 24 to prevent further invasion, and invited the evicted residents to respond.
With the first removals on February 3, the interdict was served together with the notice of motion and the founding affidavit, by erecting notice boards and announcing it in three languages by loudspeaker.
On February 21, Lwandle residents appointed Xulu attorneys to represent them in the matter, and they were in constant contact with the Sanral attorneys.
“It is maybe important to note that this interdict was extended by not just one of our honourable judges in our high court but by quite a number,” Bester said.
She said they returned to court every month between January and June to extend the interdict by agreement.
On June 23, the interdict was extended until June 22 next year.
“In legal terms, one can accept that order was served in terms of rules of court and stipulations. From a legal premise, one can accept that the respondents had knowledge from that date,” Bester said.
“If the community, through their legal representative, were not satisfied with this court order, there was a procedure in which they could apply to the court to dismiss the order. This was not done.”
Bester said Sanral sent letters to Xulu attorneys telling them that their clients were in contempt of the court interdict, and that if they did not do anything, Sanral would have to take action in terms of the court order.
“Obviously, we did not receive any response despite a number of letters. It is not really correct to say we have done nothing from February until June.”
Inquiry member Annelize van Wyk wondered why Sanral had not done more to secure its land from invasion.
Fellow Sanral attorney Shaun Hornby said it tried to ramp up its private security services in that time.
On February 6, a new security company was put in place and eight officers patrolled the area during the day and night.
From May, this was increased to 27 guards during the day and 25 guards at night. On May 27, this was doubled to 50 guards per day and 50 per night.
Van Wyk asked why a fence was not put around the entire area.
Hornby replied that on April 24, a company was hired to erect a 2m razor-coil fence for 2000m after police recommended it was necessary.
“There’s a debate as to whether fencing is effective or not. We attempted fencing in other areas and it doesn’t always do the job. Prior to that, we didn’t feel it was actually going to succeed,” Hornby said.
By June 3, 1500m of fencing had been erected.