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Monday Mar 16, 2015

Informal settlers bid to stop Tshwane from selling 'Plastic View'

The High Court in Pretoria is expected hear an urgent application by residents of Woodlane Village, also known as Plastic View, to interdict the City of Tshwane from auctioning 72 land parcels across the city, including the informal settlement in Moreleta Park.

These properties are due to go under the hammer next Tuesday, March 24. The urgent application is expected to be heard the day before - on the Monday.

In a bid to stop this from going ahead, Woodlane Village residents will ask the court to halt the auction pending a further application to review and set aside the City of Tshwane's decision taken in November to auction off these properties.

The application to halt the sale was served on the city on Friday, as well as on High Street Auctioneers, due to conduct the auction.

The prime properties - a mixed use of residential, retail and business sites - stretch across Tshwane and include some in Soshanguve, Lotus Gardens, Lynnwood Ridge and Waltloo.

The Woodlane Village community, situated next to the Moreleta NG Church in Moreleta Park, is heading to court with the help of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR).

They have been in and out of the courts for years, trying to find a solution to their housing problems.

Donald Banda, one of the community leaders, said in an affidavit most of them have lived in Woodlands Village for at least 12 years.

There are 840 households and shacks. About 94 of the community's children attend the Pure Hope school on the premises of the adjacent church and the other children attend school in Boschkop.

The villagers were allowed to settle at Woodlane Village in terms of a 2006 court order, while the surrounding ratepayers' associations and the City of Tshwane tried to find a solution.

In 2012, the court ordered the city to establish a township in the village and adjacent land and the parties have been in negotiations since to find a workable solution.

Banda said the city has in principle agreed to establish a township and a housing development on the land.

Residents of Woodlane Village who qualify for social housing will be considered for the housing development.

Banda said he was, however, advised that this process could take a further five years to complete.

He said should the sale by public auction of the land on which the village is situated proceed on March 24, their rights will suffer irreparable harm and they will have nowhere to go.

According to Banda, private buyers will not be bound by the agreement between them and the city and nothing will prevent such a buyer from evicting them once the land is transferred.

"The rug would then be pulled from under us in the negotiations with the city and the ratepayers' associations and there would be no possibility for further negotiations in good faith."

Banda said Tshwane and other metros currently face a steady influx of about 20 000 to 30 000 homeless people a month who want to settle in Gauteng - and they urgently need land.

"Among the 72 properties to be sold at the public auction are several large portions of open land that are suitable for low-cost housing development."

Banda said should this land be auctioned off, there will be less land available to house these people.

The city has not yet filed its answering papers, but in a letter to LHR it said the properties that form the subject of the auction are capital assets.

According to the council, the rationale for the sale is based on the realisation that the assets can be utilised to attract investment to the city, to deal with economic challenges, such as unemployment and to generate income through its property portfolio.

Pretoria News


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