Govt’s condemnation of land invasions welcomed – Dan Plato

CT Mayor calls for additional policing support

Mayor Plato welcomes National Government’s condemnation of land invasions but calls for additional policing support

22 July 2020

I welcome the Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu’s condemnation of the illegal land invasions in Cape Town, when she claimed, ‘We therefore call on law enforcement agencies to act decisively to halt the land invasions in the City of Cape Town.’

Unfortunately, the South African Police Service (SAPS) have played a limited role in assisting the City of Cape Town law enforcement over recent weeks. I have called on the Western Cape Police Commissioner, General Matakata, to please avail more officers to support the City of Cape and join us in a coordinated manner to protect valuable public land, which is earmarked for services, community facilities and housing projects, as well as nature conservation land, against this onslaught of illegal invasions.

In a statement issued this week, Minister Sisulu said, ‘The pieces of land being invaded are earmarked for government projects. These include providing housing for qualifying beneficiaries who have been on the waiting lists for a long time… taking away this land deprives the poorest of the poor their right to decent accommodation. We therefore call on law enforcement agencies to act decisively to halt the land invasions …The Minister believes that those who invade land should swiftly be dealt with and removed to prevent anarchy from spreading to other municipalities.’

The City’s law enforcement personnel are leading the charge in protecting land, and are stretched by eight or more coordinated invasions on a single day. We need all hands on deck now to effectively manage this situation.

We are all in this together. The police are there to serve our residents, and our residents are in dire need of their support and should be working with all law enforcement bodies. Several of our officers have already ended up in hospital with serious injuries while responding to these illegal land invasions. Our service delivery staff have also come under attack, and have been stoned and injured as they try to perform their duties.

I have also noted some reports about illegal land invaders and their self-appointed ‘leaders’ wanting to ‘negotiate’ with the authorities. There is nothing to negotiate with land invaders. Nobody has the right to occupy someone else’s land, buildings or housing developments and claim it for themselves – this is called theft, and there are laws in South Africa that don’t need interpretation on this matter. Invading someone else’s land, buildings or housing developments is illegal, and we have a duty to prevent this. 

Land invasions mean those who have waited patiently for housing will have to wait even longer as sites are lost to illegal invasions and new sites need to be identified. It means service delivery projects are placed on hold, depriving our residents of critical infrastructure upgrades, like the R162 million water infrastructure upgrade project in Khayelitsha. That project is in jeopardy, impacting thousands of law abiding residents in Khayelitsha who are relying on this pipeline for improved water and sanitation services and planned housing developments. Multiple housing projects are currently under threat and the City and authorities are acting to prevent this.

Illegal land invasions mean our law enforcement officers are diverted from our communities to deal with these invasions and the associated protest action. This means areas affected by gang violence have less law enforcement on the streets.

The City will keep standing up for our law abiding residents and will not allow land to be invaded.

Where the protesters burn infrastructure they must know that it can’t just simply be replaced as the city has a limited budget. Funds are committed to projects and programmes and we cannot simply stop those plans to replace what criminals have destroyed time and again.

Anonymous tip-offs welcomed:

Residents can report illegal activity that is taking place or that has happened or is still to happen. For anonymous tip offs, please call 112 from a cell phone (toll free) and 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 for emergencies.

Issued by Media Office, City of Cape Town, 22 July 2020