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Gauteng Cogta MEC Maile to meet with mayors over land invasions

More than 80 structures were demolished by the red ants last week in Lawley, south of Johannesburg.

Cooperative Governance MEC Lebogang Maile. Picture: @GDCoGTA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Cooperative Governance (Cogta) MEC Lebogang Maile on Monday is set to meet provincial mayors to discuss land invasions in the province.

More than 80 structures were demolished by the Red Ants last week in Lawley, south of Johannesburg. It’s understood the homes were torn down following an eviction order.

Maile was expected to meet with mayors of all municipalities in Gauteng to look into provincial land invasion measures during the extended COVID-19 lockdown period. The new regulations stipulated that there should be no evictions for this period.

However, last Thursday more than 80 families lost their homes after the red ants dismantled structures claiming to be acting on a court order.

On Sunday, Maile and Joburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo had to call off their planned visit to the area after more than 200 disgruntled residents staged a protest in defiance of regulations disallowing mass gatherings.

Maile said the matter should be resolved as a matter of urgency.

“We are concerned about the land invasions that are gaining traction throughout the province, hence we will be having a meeting with the mayors to discuss the situation,” he said.

Affected residents threatened to continue with their protest until they are provided with alternative accommodation.

Meanwhile, Makhubo on Monday said he had urged the police minister to prioritise land invasions carried out by criminal syndicates who were preying on the vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Makhubo said police had enough information to start tracking down the syndicates in Lawley.

“The whole syndicate must be crashed, there is enough evidence at least for now for police to start investigations,” he said.

He said it was unfortunate that the criminals prayed on the vulnerable during the lockdown period.

“We demolish shacks that were sold to the poor. People who are using the poor to get rich,” Makhubo said.

LEGAL ACTION LOOMING

At the same time, Lawley residents were finalising legal documents on Monday to take the City of Johannesburg to the court on an urgent basis after the 80 shacks were demolished.

Residents insisted that they were not invading land and were turning to the courts hoping to get the green light to return to the site and rebuild their homes.

One of the community leaders, Farouk Jardine, said more than 50 people had come forward confirming people were living in the shacks long before the lockdown started.

“They know that the shacks have been existing for a long time, and therefore we need to challenge them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Makhubo insisted they had done nothing wrong.

“Even those we left there we told them post the coronavirus lockdown we are coming for them because even in their own court papers they say, ‘we know we occupied the land illegally last year.’”

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.