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IOLProperty - South African Property For Sale
Friday Nov 09, 2012

Fake 'estate agents' result in demolition of Joburg properties

She collapsed as she watched the facebrick shell of a massive house in Lenasia Extension 8 being bulldozed in front of her eyes.

A tractor demolishes a house in Lenasia. Dozens of residents lost their houses as the Department of Housing officials demolished houses built illegally.

Nkele Sinbine burst out crying as people tried to revive her. Her house was next in line to be demolished by the Gauteng Department of Housing.

She has small children, and said she didn't know where she would go.

The Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing yesterday moved into Lenasia Extension 13 and Lenasia South Extension 4 accompanied by a contingent of police vehicles, including Nyalas and Casspirs, two private security companies and several bulldozers, to start demolishing the first 40 of 614 illegally built houses.

Yesterday, only the unoccupied and partially built houses were demolished. But the province has warned that it will be moving to the occupied houses within the next few weeks.

Residents have vowed to fight back, threatening violence and "another Marikana", to save their homes, some of which are valued at close to R800 000.

Sulliman Barends, representing some affected homeowners, said they were taken unawares by the demolitions.

"We had a meeting with the Housing Department last week and they undertook to hold off on the demolition, so we didn't know they were going to happen. Now suddenly they arrive here with police and security to start demolishing our houses. We are going to mobilise and will not allow them back to destroy our homes," he said.

Barends said most of the people were conned into buying the properties by agents who claimed they had permission from the City of Joburg to sell the land.

"They showed us papers and gave us official documents, so we did not know that the sale was illegal."

Anthony Pillay was living in a partly completed house that was demolished. "All my stuff is in there - I have nothing left. I will have to make a fire on the pavement tonight and sleep outside. I have nowhere else to go," he said.

His neighbour Sipho Ngubeni also lost everything. He was also living in an incomplete house.

"I was told to take my stuff out - I managed to save a few things, but I lost my TV and surround system," he said.

Victor Moreriane, chief director of communications for the Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing, said this was the worst case of land invasion in the province he had encountered.

"It is a big operation, well organised, which has to be stopped. We have arrested 10 'estate agents' caught selling the land, and many more arrests are imminent. The kingpins are living in huge houses and driving fancy cars. They encourage people to build, telling them that there is no way that the government will demolish their houses once they are built," he said.

Moreriane said people had had ample warning of the demolitions. His department had obtained an eviction order in October last year. Residents had contested it, but lost.

All the houses have illegal electricity connections, which is costing the council R300 000 a month in illegal services.

The next phase of demolition will be the occupied houses.

Moreriane could not say when this would happen, as it depended on police availability, but it would be within a few weeks, he said.

The Star

 
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