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Wednesday Jan 16, 2013

Residents' excessive demands a major stumbling block in Lenasia crisis

Progress on a solution to the Lenasia housing crisis is slow, and could result in a deadlock because of the onerous demands being made by Lenasia residents who built their homes illegally.

Lenasia residents demand that people who are homeless due to demolitions must be provided with temporary shelter or emergency housing, and be compensated.

However, none of the government spokespersons, nor the Lenasia South Extension 4 and 13 Concerned Residents' Association, would admit this, all saying that the talks are well on track.

But insiders say residents' demands are too great and are not likely to be accepted by local, provincial or national government departments.

Residents are, among others, asking for a blanket amnesty to be applied to all people who have occupied stands, and for these to be legalised. Over and above this, they are demanding that all illegal electricity and water connections be approved.

The association, in its

Psubmission to the Special Lenasia Intervention Team (SPLIT), formed by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale in November last year in a bid to resolve the matter, said most houses in the affected area have water meters and are using prepaid electricity.

"They are paying for the services, even though they have been told that the connection of such electricity and water is illegal.

They are prepared to continue paying for such services. In our view, it will be beneficial for both the municipality and the residents if the connections were legalised, as the municipality will continue receiving revenue and the residents will have an undisturbed supply of services.

"Disconnection of electricity and water without an order of a competent court is illegal, and a court order will be obtained through a spoliation application," said the residents in their submission to SPLIT.

Inside sources say the City of Joburg is not prepared to do this and wants to disconnect all the services that were fraudulently and illegally connected.

Lenasia residents are also asking that:

  • People who are already occupying the stands and houses and have built structures on them be afforded an opportunity to buy them;

  • The rezoning of stands only applies to those stands that are currently not occupied at all;

  • People who are now homeless due to demolition be provided with temporary shelter or emergency housing;

  • All people whose houses and walls have been demolished be compensated;

  • The government must assist people who are in the process of completing their structures;

  • An amnesty must be applied to all people who have occupied or have built structures on the stands, and they must be legalised; and

  • The government should assist in the completion of the structures that are incomplete, if a person qualifies for government assistance.

    "We are prepared to work towards the realisation of a permanent solution and hope that our proposals will be taken into consideration. We express our gratitude at being invited to participate in such negotiations and hope the matter will be resolved amicably as soon as reasonably possible," said chairman Lazarus Baloyi.

    He told The Star there was no deadlock and that talks and negotiations would continue until an agreeable solution for all could be found.

    The Department of Human Settlements said more time had to be allocated for new submissions.

    The Star


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