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Wednesday Oct 16, 2013

Illegal Lenasia properties in spotlight again

Tensions are mounting once again in Lenasia over the illegal construction of houses on government-owned land.

A property under construction in Lenasia.

In recent weeks, residents have resumed building houses illegally, many in the dark of night, despite an agreement with the Gauteng housing department not to do so. At least not until the dispute of land ownership has been resolved.

The two affected areas were Lenasia ext 13 and Lenasia South extension 4.

The department is now calling on Lenasia residents to stop constructing in violation of the agreement, or it could start demolitions again because the court order permitting it to do so, is still valid.

The Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ntombi Mekgwe said the department had abided by the agreement, but a surveillance team found that 15 houses are being rebuilt.

T'We have issued stop orders against those that are rebuilding, but people are ignoring them and are building during the night,' she said. The matter started last year in November when the housing department moved in with bulldozers.

Residents staged violent protests, burning tyres and blocking roads.

Former Human Settlements minister, Tokyo Sexwale, visited the area to calm tensions.

He formed a task team called the Special Lenasia Intervention Task Team.

However, despite numerous meetings, no agreement has been reached. Three factors are blocking an agreement. Residents are demanding: Compensation, either financial or in kind, for the demolished houses.

That larger stands, which have been developed, should not be subdivided.

That illegally-sold stands should be sold back to residents at cost, not market-related prices.

'This presents a careless attitude to the law and shows that some people are acting in bad faith. They are warned that the law will take its course,' Mekgwe said.

Lazarus Baloyi of the Legal Concerned Residents' Association Lenasia South, said people are getting frustrated by the lack of action by the task team.

'The housing department has abandoned the process. Justice delayed is justice denied. People are losing money and have no homes.

'The department has told us we are getting an audit of all the properties, but there is no such document,' Baloyi said.

The department has urged the community to report housing invasions to 0800 701 701 (toll free) or directly to the unit on 011 355 4229.

The Star


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