Occupying land, buildings without owner’s consent illegal – Cape Town

City says this mostly brings misery as invaded land becomes a flood, fire and health risk

Don’t be fooled - occupying land, buildings without an owner’s consent is illegal

27 February 2020

The City of Cape Town has an intense understanding of the acute accommodation need across the metro. Its staff are on the ground 24/7, always ready to assist where they can. Unfortunately, the illegal occupation of buildings and land mostly brings misery as invaded land becomes a flood, fire and health risk and newly-established informal settlements are not prioritised for service delivery at the expense of existing informal settlements. Not only does this place great strain on planned service delivery, it also places our planned future development and service delivery projects at risk. The same goes for illegally occupying buildings as a way to force the hand of government and to jump the queue ahead of those waiting the longest for assisted housing opportunities. This also jeopardises planned projects for the rightful beneficiaries.  

From my time with various communities, I know there is sometimes misinformation about land occupation. There are also people in the communities who encourage land invasion or the illegal occupation of buildings for their own financial or other agenda-driven considerations.

Importantly, no person other than the owner may give anyone consent to live in their property or on their land.

If a person is paying someone other than the owner to live on land or to occupy a space in a building, it is illegal.

No one should pay to register on the Housing Database. Qualifying beneficiaries register free of charge for subsidised housing opportunities.

The City’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. In addition, greater access to affordable housing opportunities closer to urban centres and the Cape Town central city in particular will be greatly harmed by any further illegal occupation of buildings and housing sites.

Ongoing land invasions, the illegal occupation of buildings and calls by some to invade land or illegally occupy State-, City- or private land and buildings hold great risks for housing delivery in Cape Town. We are heading into an election time, so there will be much politicking and mobilisation about human settlements.

In South Africa, we follow the Rule of Law. We agree that our actions should not be harmful to other people nor 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.

Please call the Public Emergency Communication Centre on 107 from a landline or on 021 480 7700 from a cell phone to provide anonymous information about land invasions. Private land owners must also act decisively to prevent the illegal occupation of their land if applicable, especially where large, unmonitored and unfenced pieces of land are concerned.

Issued by Malusi Booi, Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, City of Cape Town, 27 February 2020