Large-scale land invasion in Philippi East - Cape Town

JP Smith says hundreds of unoccupied structures have been erected or are in the process of being erected

Cape Town cannot afford or tolerate large-scale land invasions

The City of Cape Town condemns the large-scale, orchestrated and damaging land invasion currently underway on privately-owned land in Philippi East.

This land-grab holds the potential to be of an unprecedented scale.

The City, with our law enforcement agencies and the South African Police Service (SAPS), will continue to do everything in our power to contain the situation.

Every city in South Africa acts to protect land from invasion. It is their constitutional duty, but the obligation to protect land from invasion is also borne from practical considerations.

Invaded land immediately becomes a fire and flood risk.

If land such as this is illegally occupied, the economic and job creation opportunities that would be created if industry could be established there, are lost and it condemns these residents to live in areas with little access to jobs and economic opportunities.

Various court orders have been obtained by the land owners interdicting people from erecting structures on the erven in question.

The City and one of the land owners also has an interdict in place pertaining to one of the pieces of land, Erf 150, to support the elderly land-owner whose land has already been illegally occupied in the past.

Concerning this land, the Constitutional Court on 7 August 2014 delivered judgment in the City's favour in the Erf 150 Philippi East matter (also commonly referred to as the ‘Marikana' land invasion case).

It dismissed the applicants' (land invaders) leave to appeal against the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal because the application bore no prospects of success.

The Supreme Court of Appeal had in May 2014 overturned the incorrect findings of Judge Gamble of the High Court in Cape Town that the City had acted unlawfully when it had removed structures erected on Erf 150.

The City has been vindicated by the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court that its actions in protecting private property from land invaders is compliant with its constitutional obligations.

The City will continue the implementation of its housing and service delivery programmes.

With the highest urbanisation rate in the country, it is imperative that we uphold a fair and equitable system of delivering and accelerating the provision of housing opportunities and other services to those in need and to our most vulnerable residents.

The City will continue to uphold the values contained in the Constitution. This includes respect for the dignity of all, compliance with the rule of law at all times, and preventing queue-jumping by those who illegally invade land.

We must continue to protect a fair and systematic housing delivery process.

Order of events

The Sheriff of the Court served the interim High Court interdict on 8 August 2014 on the unlawful occupants on erf 149 RE, Philippi. The SAPS requested the assistance of Law Enforcement to serve the court order on Friday.

Over the weekend, a large-scale land invasion became evident.

On Monday, Law Enforcement did not remove anyone. Instead, they were preventing further invasion of the land since all individuals invading the land were in contempt of the High Court order obtained by the private land owner on Friday.

Only uncompleted and vacant structures were removed.

Furthermore, Law Enforcement tried to prevent the offloading of building material, which had arrived en masse, by a torrent of trucks. This process could not be completed because Law Enforcement was attacked by the unlawful occupants and pelted with stones.

Hundreds of unoccupied structures have been erected or are in the process of being erected.

The SAPS as well as Metro Police, Law Enforcement and Traffic Services are currently on the ground and doing everything in their power to contain the situation, which remains volatile.

Law Enforcement is dismantling unoccupied structures that were put up yesterday. They will be dismantling hundreds of unoccupied structures today.

It must be noted that there has been a concerted effort to invade both private and public land across the City of Cape Town as a means to promote lawlessness and in an attempt to make the city ungovernable.

We believe that the situation playing out in Philippi East is an example of these determined efforts to promote the illegal occupation of land for political objectives.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the actions of those who are instigating communities for their own political and monetary gain.

We furthermore condemn the violence that has been associated with this situation.

Cape Town simply cannot afford or tolerate large-scale land invasions.

Statement issued by Alderman JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, City of Cape Town, August 13 2014

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