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Thursday Jan 10, 2013

Demolition of Lenasia properties to be discussed again

Talks will resume tomorrow to finalise plans to resolve the housing crisis in Lenasia.

A house is demolished in Lenasia South Extension 4. The demolitions sparked violent protests last year.

In November, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale formed a Special Lenasia Intervention Team (Split) to address the problems after the Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing set about demolishing illegal houses and structures, including some multimillion-rand houses, which resulted in violent protests.

Houses in Extension 13 and Lenasia South Extension 4 were demolished.

Residents participating in the intervention team say that, broadly speaking, it has been agreed that those whose houses were demolished, and who earn under R3 500 a month, will be moved to low-cost housing in Lehae. Those earning under R15 000 whose houses were knocked down will be offered a subsidy of R87 000 for houses worth R300 000 which are to be built.

Another agreement is that people who have illegally purchased larger portions of land will give up all but 600sqm.

The housing department will also, at its cost, clear away all the rubble from the demolished houses.

Last year, Sexwale was forced to step in when violence erupted in the two areas.

Initially, those who had purchased land illegally were the ones protesting. Later, there were protests by legal residents who claimed that occupants of the illegal houses were using up their municipal services and were bringing down values of their properties.

He formed Split, consisting of the Department of Human Settlements, the Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing, the SA Human Rights Commission, the Legal Resources Centre, the Hawks, the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), the City of Joburg and Lenasia residents - those involved in the illegal purchase of land as well as those opposed to them.

Sulliman Barends, of the Concerned Lenasia Residents' Association, representing those whose homes were demolished or were due to be demolished, said architects had been appointed to inspect the houses that had been built without plans.

He said the architects would compile a report on the state of about 340 houses, for an amount of R1 000, and had already started inspections.

Thereafter, the NHBRC would check all the houses before approval would be given.

Barends said that about 65 percent of affected people had come forward and reported to the housing department on who they had bought the properties from, the state of construction of the houses, false "title deeds" they had been given by the sellers, and their housing needs.

Mongezi Mnyani, the head of the Gauteng Local Government and Housing Department, said some people who had been reluctant to come forward had now done so. But they were still not satisfied with the numbers.

"We will establish satellite offices in Lenasia to make it easier for people to register with us, and to give us affidavits about whom they bought the land from," he said.

The implementation plans would be approved tomorrow, he said, and quicker progress would then be made.

The HRC said it had made submissions, as agreed, to the intervention plan. Spokesman Isaac Mangena said central to its recommendations was that all phases of the plan must include clear processes and time frames.

"The HRC does not represent any particular party at an individual level. We engage in this... on the basis of our constitutional mandate to protect and promote a culture of human rights."

The Star

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