Ruling on land dispute

Michael Sakuneka

Michael Sakuneka

A five month land dispute between Greater Tzaneen municipality and 180 squatters living at an informal settlement near the Talana hostel in Limpopo is over.

This after the municipality was granted an eviction order by the Tzaneen magistrate's court on Wednesday.

The confrontation, over what the municipality refers to as an unlawful occupation of land reserved for future development, started about five months ago after some 180 shacks burnt down from a fire that started in one of the shacks at night.

And the municipality refused to help the occupants, arguing that they had occupied the area illegally.

Initially, peaceful attempts by the municipality to have the squatters leave the area failed as they were adamant that they would not leave the area until they are provided with alternative accommodation, while the municipality argued that nothing would be done for the squatters because they came from areas outside Tzaneen.

Head of the municipality's housing division, Handswell Phakula, said the squatters have been given until December 31 to vacate the area or they will be forcefully removed on January 7 next year.

Phakula said some people would be offered alternative accommodation in housing programmes around Tzaneen, but those who come from out of town will have to find their own accommodation.

Spokesman for the squatters, Tinny Mashai, said they will not leave the area until the municipality shows them where to build new homes.