NEWS & ANALYSIS

Hijacking of buildings, land condemned – Cape Town

Illegal occupation of City-owned properties is becoming a trend

City condemns hijacking of City buildings, land 

13 August 2019

The illegal occupation of buildings and land across the metro, and in many other urban areas in South Africa, creates far more problems than solutions. These actions are illegal and go against the values of a society that supports the Rule of Law.

The City of Cape Town’s Human Settlements Directorate is expected to deliver projects to the value of almost R2,7 billion over the next three years as part of its continued efforts to improve the lives of Cape Town’s more vulnerable residents. Ongoing land invasions, the illegal occupation of buildings and calls by some to invade land or illegally occupy State-, City- or privately-owned land and buildings hold great risks for housing delivery in Cape Town.

Rule of Law

In South Africa we follow the Rule of Law. We agree that our actions should not be harmful to other people and that our actions should not be against the law. Illegal invasions and the occupation of property that does not belong to the occupiers or where no permission has been given for them to occupy is illegal. There often seems to be a perception that these actions are legitimate and justifiable. But they are not and they cause more harm than good.

The illegal occupation of City-owned properties is becoming a trend, not only within the Cape Town metro but nationwide too. This cannot be tolerated since it directly impacts on the provision of housing within our city. The City will take whatever actions are necessary to prevent the illegal occupation of its property.

Affordable housing opportunities

Greater access to affordable housing opportunities that are closer to urban centres and the Cape Town central city in particular will be harmed by the further illegal occupation of buildings and housing sites. The City remains committed to providing affordable and social housing opportunities around Cape Town’s city centres on suitable sites such as the Salt River Market site, the Woodstock Hospital site and the Pine Road site, as well as other suitable areas across the city while following due process. For instance, the Woodstock Hospital site has been earmarked for social housing opportunities but the planning of these opportunities can only formally commence once the acquisition of the property from the Western Cape Government has been approved by Council.

The City has commissioned a feasibility analysis for the redevelopment of the Woodstock Hospital. A team of construction consultants is busy with the analysis and the City is awaiting the outcome of this analysis.  

However the development of the Woodstock Hospital is under severe pressure due to the illegal occupation of the building, despite the City obtaining an interdict to prevent further illegal occupation. The hijacking of buildings is a real concern as it impacts on the provision of housing opportunities within the city centre. In addition, it might render these developments moot due to the site and/or existing building not being available as a direct result of illegal occupation. 

Earlier in the year the City obtained an interdict against the further illegal occupation of the Woodstock Hospital site. Any illegal actions on this site or other sites must be viewed as sabotage of the City’s inclusive housing process which is under way.

In the meantime, the City will continue to assess City-owned land, including suitable land in and near the Cape Town CBD, to determine whether some of these properties could be developed for housing opportunities.

Cape Town is a place for all. We are committed to inclusivity and will keep on exploring all possibilities to provide more affordable housing opportunities for our residents.

Issued by Malusi Booi, Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, 13 August 2019