Gauteng to push ahead with evictions on the poor

Picture for illustration. Shacks being destroyed at a squatter camp outside Ennerdale in Johannesburg, 16 April 2020, by Red Ants under the watch of JMPD on the 21st day of the national shutdown. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

‘The State attorney has been instructed to proceed with the identified court order for all identified high risk areas, as per our intelligence report,’ says Maile.

Gauteng government will push ahead with harsh evictions imposed on residents of informal settlements and hijacked buildings, despite admitting its failures to provide adequate housing for the poor.

This emerged in Gauteng cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Lebogang Maile’s announcement of government’s turnaround strategy to deal with various backlogs in the department’s operations including finance, governance and service delivery.

Over the course of the lockdown, government has come under fire in the province for carrying out evictions on the province’s poorest from informal settlements to hijacked buildings, leaving hundreds out in the cold with no other home. This happened even when it was supposedly illegal under lockdown Level 3. Now the department has hired 1,500 community patrollers trained by the department of community safety and the SAPS as part of its counter-invasion strategy.

These community members will be expected to contribute to a reduction in the incidents of land invasion in the province; act as intelligence personnel by identifying individuals driving land invasion plans and hand over the information to relevant authorities; serve as the eyes and ears of law enforcement agencies in all identified areas that are susceptible to land invasion; and, contribute to community mobilisation, which will discourage land invasion.

“We also have eviction orders against the unlawful occupiers of unallocated housing units and empty stands in the following areas, to name a few: Olivenhoutbosch, Vlakfontein, Orange Farm, and Nellmapius. The State attorney has been instructed to proceed with the identified court order for all identified high risk areas, as per our intelligence report. Court papers have been drafted and are to be lodged this month,” said Maile in a statement.

Also read: Gauteng housing department admits failure

Land invasions and housing are adding to the department’s financial woes, Maile said.

“The department is implementing drastic measures for the processing of invoices in order to deal with accruals, which we aim to have resolved and closed off by the end of this financial year. The department has accruals amounting to R956 million, arising from poor controls for project and contract management by both contractors, suppliers and the department. This is further compounded by claims relating to security services rendered for guarding houses against illegal invasions, counter land invasion as well as emergency relief that was never verified by the department.”

Though government has insisted that the hundreds of evictions carried out across the country this year have been above board, some institutions have challenged them on the basis of basic human rights.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) successfully interdicted the City of Cape Town, along with any other parties contracted, from evicting anyone and demolishing any informal dwelling, hut, shack, tent or similar structure or any other form of temporary or permanent dwelling or shelter, whether occupied or unoccupied, throughout the City Metropole, while the national state of disaster remains in place, except in terms of a duly obtained court order.

-Simnikiweh@citizen.co.za

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