Ivory Park community members were left homeless and furious after their shacks were taken down by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) on 31 July.
JMPD spokesperson Superintendent Wayne Minnaar argued that according to the Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act, a court order was not needed for demolition of newly built structures.
“A house or a structure can only be erected on land which is purchased or hired, and built according to the City of Joburg’s policy.”
One of the community members who had their home demolished, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the land on which they erected their shacks has been vacant for many years.
He explained that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many people were left jobless and unable to pay rent.
“We decided to then come here and put up our shacks so we do not get into trouble with landlords because of not paying rent.
“People have been left homeless, their clothes have been burnt and their iron sheets have been taken. We do not know where we will go from here.
“JMPD could not even present a court order but they have come to destroy and burn our stuff for the second time now.”
Ward 79 councillor, Thompson Maluleka spoke on the matter saying: “In a meeting, I have had with Ivory Park community members, community members argued that there is no development taking place [in Ivory Park] while Ebony Park seems to be doing well.
“The people who have been in Ivory Park and settled want development, whereas the new people want the land to build houses, which cannot happen.
“I have advised them that we cannot have all vacant spaces closed for residential purposes because as much as we need places to stay, we need places where we can buy bread and milk, people cannot be far from developments.”
Maluleka concluded that more space has been set aside for residential use, but the City is facing a backlog.
Rita Zwane, one of the lessor’s of the land, said that there are plans to develop the land, however, this has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We ask the community to respect the law and not to invade the land. The opportunities for the members of this community will be far greater for them with this development rather than just land invasions.
“Jobs will be created to allow for long-term sustainability for the people of Ivory Park and Ebony Park. We also ask the community to adhere to the laws of our country and not to continue to put up illegal structures.”
This article first appeared on Midrand Reporter and was republished with permission.