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Wednesday Nov 14, 2012

R1m property one of many in Gauteng to be demolished

This is just one house - worth more than R1 million - among the many in line to be demolished in a Gauteng-wide crackdown because it was built illegally.

The house was built on land belonging to the Emfuleni local municipality.

This expensive house, built next to a shack in Ironsyde/Debonair Park near De Deur, is set to be demolished because it was built illegally on land belonging to the Emfuleni municipality.

Emfuleni local municipality mayor Greta Hlongwane and member of the mayoral committee for housing Manana Kubheka told The Star exclusively about her municipality's intention to demolish more than 200 houses built in Ironsyde/Debonair Park, near De Deur in the Vaal region.

The houses were not registered with the Deeds Office. The houses have access to water, electricity and reticulation services, but Hlongwane says all these services were connected illegally.

She said the municipality had made several attempts to disconnect the homes, but the owners had reconnected themselves.

Some of the illegal occupiers still living in shacks in the area also had DStv in their fully electrified corrugated iron houses.

Hlongwane said that even as the council was planning to demolish the complete houses, there were houses that were still at the foundation phase, while others were at an advanced stage of construction.

Kubheka said the situation was worse in the Vaal region.

She agreed with MEC for Local Government and Housing Ntombi Mekgwe that the mushrooming of these illegal houses was the work of syndicates operating all over Gauteng.

Other municipalities in the province have employed security companies to guard against the illegal invasion of municipal land and buildings.

"This seriously affects our budget," a councillor said in Parktown yesterday.

Emfuleni municipality officials corroborated their political bosses and showed The Star copies that the sale of their land happened through a syndicate allegedly led by a man named Nangalembe Albert Mbalekelwa - alias Mandla Langalembe.

The officials, who refused to be named, said Langalembe was the sole owner of Builder Advancement Services and has an account with a reputable bank. One of the officials said people who buy land illegally make their payments into that bank account on a regular basis.

The Star has also seen records of various payments made into the bank account. Some of the people making payments live in the Soweto townships of Zola, Pimville and Emndeni as well the southern Joburg suburbs of Ormonde, Meredale, Naturena, Devland, Eikenhof, Mondeor and Ridgeway, and further south in Lawley.

Kubheka was emphatic that her municipality would act soon against the illegal occupiers, but Langalembe vowed to stop them in their tracks.

He said the disputed land belonged to the Wildebeesfontein Evaton Community Organisation (Weco), which he chairs.

Langalembe confirmed that a case of fraud had been opened against him at the Protea Magistrate's Court, but said the charge was set aside.

He insisted that the land belonged to him and his committee - despite a Johannesburg High Court ruling in March this year that he and his team were occupying the land illegally. Langalembe confirmed his bank details, but said his financial assets were still frozen by the Asset Forfeiture Unit.

Langalembe and the other respondents in the case had taken the full-Bench ruling in March on appeal. Their application was dismissed with costs on October 18.

The deadline for the illegal occupiers, in terms of the court ruling, was last Wednesday, but most were still in their houses.

The occupier of the R1m house confirmed that she had bought the land from Weco and that she had constructed her house, which also operates as an office for her funeral scheme business.

It has a main house with flatlets, complete with a security gate and alarms.

The businesswoman told The Star that she was never informed about the demolition, but said she was prepared to confront the mayor because she was a staunch ANC member.

Last night, Langalembe said he was unaware of the latest court ruling that had also declared illegal the occupation of houses in Ironsyde/Debonair Park.

He said they had appealed against the March ruling because they had not been served with papers.

"Now, our appeal is dismissed again in our absence," said Langalembe.

He said he would challenge the dismissal of their appeal.

Langalembe said they had placed adverts in the Daily Sun and Sunday Sun in August 2010, asking Gautengers to buy the property because Wildebeesfontein Farm was an "inheritance from our forefathers - remember that you are the beneficiaries of Wildebeesfontein Farm. Remember, freedom is complete when one has a shelter", part of the advert read.

However, The Star is in possession of a letter written by former minister of agriculture and land affairs Lulu Xingwana in which she wrote to Weco's former president, Themba Mthwalo, on August 10, 2006 stating that their land claim to the farm had been dismissed in August 2003.

Yesterday, all Gauteng municipalities, including the three metros, confirmed that they were victims of the illegal occupation of land.

Mekgwe has appealed to residents to phone 0860 428 8364 if they have information on the illegal occupation of land.

The Star

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