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Evictions put on hold in violence-wracked Hammanskraal

Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Paul Mashatile has suspended evictions in Hammanskraal.

Gauteng Human Settlements MEC, Paul Mashatile says there will be no more evictions and demolitions in Hammanskraal, following a meeting with community leaders. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Paul Mashatile has suspended evictions in Hammanskraal after two days of confusion about the fate of residents.

Earlier this week, residents retaliated when they were evicted from land they were occupying illegally.

The residents say they believe they were on the land legally after being given permission allegedly by an African National Congress (ANC) councillor.

LISTEN: Journalists are being chased away by angry residents in Hammanskraal.

Mashatile says the evictions in Hammanskraal were due to a misunderstanding.

WATCH: Paul Mashatile's visit to Hammanskraal.

He says locals believed they were occupying the area legally.

"We thought that we shouldn't be punitive in a situation where people really believed that they were not doing anything wrong to be on those pieces of land (sic)."

WATCH: Residents say councillor gave them land.

Today, the MEC met with community leaders and members of the Kekana Royal Family to discuss ways of handling the conflict caused by the evictions.

Leaders have sent their condolences to the families of two people killed on Monday and say they hope calm will now be restored in Hammanskraal.

GAUTENG GOVERNMENT APPOINTS TEAM TO DEAL WITH HAMMANSKRAAL EVICTIONS

The Gauteng provincial government has appointed a steering committee to deal with the aftermath of the forced removals in Hammanskraal.

He says government now understands that residents believed they were living on the land legally when they started occupying it last year.

Mashatile says the steering committee will be helping those who were evicted move back to the area.

Community leaders in Hammanskraal say they're pleased with the outcome of today's meeting with the human settlements MEC which should put residents at ease.

Community leader Fortune Mathabathe says the meeting has cleared all confusion residents had about their future in the area after being informed they were occupying land illegally.

"At least now we understand our position as the community and we also understand the position of government on the matter."

He says while the deaths of two people on Monday is unfortunate, residents had no choice but to protect themselves and their homes.

"We were defending ourselves because we had people who were coming from nowhere, shooting at us and we didn't know what was happening."