Lenasia property solution should not 'promote criminality' - Sexwale
A solution to the Lenasia land invasions must be found within 48 hours, but there will be casualties.
These were the words of Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale after he defused tensions in Lenasia yesterday when there were scuffles and verbal abuse between illegal land invaders and legal owners.
Sexwale warned that the the solutions would not be popular with everyone and could result in the demolition of improperly and unsafely built houses, evictions and the seizure of property.
No solution coming from such a meeting would promote criminality, he warned. "We have undertaken not to continue demolishing, so residents have to stop building."
After an internal meeting with Gauteng Housing Department officials in the morning, Sexwale met the opposing parties at the Lenasia South Civic Centre. They were initially kept apart by riot police. Sexwale asked the police to leave, saying it was going to be a peaceful gathering.
"I am here to tell you the truth, not to win friends and votes. The land was not taken from a farmer but from government. That land was given and sold to people in a criminal manner with no authority from government. Some people were tricked into believing it was legal and others knew it was illegal and still purchased [it]," he said.
It was their duty to come forward and disclose information about the people who sold them the land. Sexwale said he was aware that people who tried to come forward with information were being intimidated. "We are... investigating and intercepting threatening mails," he said.
None of the illegal houses had proper building plans, he said, and the National Home Builders Regulatory Council would be brought on board.
Within 48 hours a meeting would be called including affected parties, Gauteng Housing, city officials, the Human Rights Commission and the NHBRC, the Housing Development Agency and his chief of staff would be present to monitor the meeting.
Residents would not be able to claim alternative accommodation from the government, he said. "This does not involve the poorest of the poor. This is a middle-class problem in Lenasia," he said.