Home News Anger over application to evict illegal shack dwellers

Anger over application to evict illegal shack dwellers

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Resident and community leader Abel Sebeela said that he had spent R80 000 on building a home for his companion and children

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THE UNLAWFUL occupiers of land in King Senare Street, near Soul City, are up in arms over a “semi-urgent” court application to evict them and demolish their shacks.

The matter has been scheduled to be heard in the Northern Cape High Court on May 4, as Sol Plaatje Municipality intends removing them for unlawfully occupying the land.

Residents said that they had invested heavily in their homes that they had erected on the land.

Resident and community leader Abel Sebeela said that he had spent R80 000 on building a home for his companion and children.

“The house has seven rooms and has a carport. We are all growing food gardens with the seeds and implements that we received from the Department of Agriculture. We have never been engaged in any protest action or violence. There is an agreement to share the powerline from neighbouring houses, it is not an illegal electricity connection,” said Sebeela.

He added that while the majority of shack dwellers were ANC members, they would approach the EFF for legal representation to help fight for the land.

“If the ANC can’t help us, we will ask for advocate Dali Mpofu to represent us because this is our land that we have been occupying since 2016 and we have a right to be here.

“The South African Human Rights Commission is investigating a complaint we raised with them regarding the provision of basic services at the shacks.”

Sol Plaatje Municipality manager of housing administration, Simon Mothelesi, in court documents, pointed out that it was difficult to identify the unlawful occupants, while there were 27 households that would not be included in the eviction order.

The land is in the process of being rezoned for 62 residential erven and currently has no infrastructure for the provision of basic services.

“The property can only be properly developed after extensive upgrades to the water, sewage and electricity infrastructure in the area that will take some time to implement. Plans are being delayed by the unlawful occupation of the illegal occupants.”

He pointed out that since June 2016, the property had become overcrowded as a result of the inflow of new occupants.

“This has placed immense pressure on the existing infrastructure of neighbouring, law-abiding residents that will result in a health hazard as a result of a lack of running water, sewage and legally connected electricity and refuse removal.”

Mothelesi added that there were illegal and dangerous electricity and water connections.

“Sol Plaatje Municipality plans to move some of the people residing at the nearby area adjacent to the supermarket to the property but this cannot be implemented due to the unlawful presence of the illegal occupants. The municipality intends to supply electricity to 48 households situated adjacent to the supermarket.

“However, this cannot be done as the supermarket area is currently too congested to install electricity connections.”

He indicated that there were 104 households that were entitled to reside in the vicinity of the supermarket while 27 households were lawfully permitted to reside on the property.

He stated that numerous unsuccessful meetings were held by the mayor, councillors and housing committee officials to convince them to remove their shacks and vacate the property.

“They refused to co-operate or provide details or personal information to enable council to establish whether there was a genuine need for alternative housing and officials were even requested to leave. These meetings were attended by unknown people who defend the occupiers, without them necessarily residing there.”

It was pointed out that while the municipality was not able to identify the individuals affected by the eviction order, the institution could not delay these proceedings as the construction of houses and installation of electricity in the area was being stalled.

Mothelesi added that they were unable to identify alternative accommodation until the identities, employment status and details of the affected persons were known.

“Should they prove to be in need of alternative accommodation, temporary alternative accommodation has been earmarked with water and basic sanitation facilities.

EFF MPL Shadrack Tlhaole said that the party would gladly assist the evictees, even if they were not EFF members.

“We will not look away when a black person says they need assistance, regardless of their political affiliations. We will even help white people and foreigners who are being evicted. The ANC does not care for the poor, they are throwing them off their own land. We have lawyers in the EFF who can represent them in court. The EFF is awake 24 hours per day, we will forever remain an ugly irritation – a thorn in the side of government.”