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Thursday Nov 22, 2012

'Tshwane council must act on illegal land sales'

Tuesday was one of the hottest days this year in the Tshwane metro area but this did not discourage scores of Soshanguve residents from playing hide-and-seek with the police.

The residents had illegally occupied a piece of land between Soshanguve south and Rosslyn.

It is alleged that the residents bought stands for between R10 000 and R15 000 from a man, known only as Johannes, who is said to be part of the ward 90 committee.

The residents erected shacks on the piece of land which were later dismantled by the Red Ants.

Some of the residents tried to prevent the Red Ants from demolishing the shacks, and police fired teargas to disperse the crowd.

To cool themselves in the scorching sun, the residents used water from fire hydrants and some of the damaged water pipes in the area.

What is surprising is that there is an RDP housing project currently being undertaken by the municipality and the Gauteng provincial government on this piece of land.

A Tshwane Metro Council official, who did not wish to be named, said they were concerned that the illegal land invasion could lead to delays in the completion of the housing project.

The question is: who is Johannes and who gave him permission to sell the stands to the people, most of whom are desperate to get a roof over their heads?

Another question which begs an answer is why did the residents spent their hard-earned cash to purchase the stands without making sure that the deal is legit?

Unfortunately the ward 90 councillor Simon Marotola and the member of the mayoral committee responsible for housing, Joshua Ngonyama have not been able to respond to questions regarding Johannes, or whether they are aware of the illegal sale of the stands.

Urgent steps need to be taken by the metro before the situation gets out of hand.

The illegal sale of land, especially in the northern parts of the Tshwane metro area, has been an issue over the past few years.

A few years ago, angry Soshanguve residents called on the municipality to act against those responsible for the illegal sale of council land in the area.

The residents marched on the municipal offices where they handed over a memorandum containing their grievances.

The residents claimed that officials of the company hired by the municipality to protect council land from illegal invasions were accepting bribes from other residents and council officials involved in the illegal sale of land.

They demanded to know why some residents who had allegedly bought land from council officials and ward councillors were not evicted.

Former executive mayor Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, promised the residents that land invasions will not be tolerated in the area over which the metro council has jurisdiction.

Ramokgopa warned that "strong action" would be taken against any attempt at illegal land invasion across Tshwane, adding that council will not hesitate to turn to court to challenge any land invasion.

Council should make its intentions clear by instituting a full investigation into the illegal sale of stands in Soshanguve east.

Action should also be taken against Johannes, or any other member of the community who is involved in the illegal sale of land.

Failure to do this could result in the situation getting out of control and illegal structures mushrooming throughout the metro area.

Patrick Hlahla
Metro Watch
Pretoria News


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