Property hijacking sabotages housing provision plan

Members of the Red Ants demolish a shack in Dunoon, Cape Town, on April 25 2019.
Members of the Red Ants demolish a shack in Dunoon, Cape Town, on April 25 2019.
Image: Esa Alexander

Our democracy is admired by numerous nations across the world and our constitution is lauded as one of the best.

Yet it is pointless if it serves as a ceremonial document with no physical backing from the enforcement of the rule of law.

This should be a collective effort that begins with those who are entrusted by the public to safeguard our democracy making pronouncements on activities that are a blatant disregard for the law and employ efforts to eradicate them.

Gauteng continues to suffer from a housing backlog despite it being the province that has provided the highest numbers of houses in the country. Celebrating past victories does nothing to address the dire state we are in.

A gnarling concern of mine has been the increased number of illegal occupants on private as well as state-owned property, as it hinders our objective to effectively address the housing shortage in this province and ultimately the country.

I will be the first to admit that there are faults in the system, with negative spillover effects that seek to undermine the process of allocation of houses in an equitable and fair manner.

These man-made glitches in the system, however, are not to be used as a springboard that perpetuates lawlessness by citizens awaiting house allocations.

The state will not tolerate cases such as the one in Orange Grove, Johannesburg, where citizens have helped themselves to vacant homes since 2017 as they continue to clash with the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC).

We strongly condemn the illegal selling of property set aside for South Africans to foreign nationals that are mainly undocumented - a major grievance of the Orange Grove community. This, however, does not excuse the violent seizing of these immovable assets by the community.

It is rightfully regarded as property hijacking and those who are found guilty will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

We are not a kangaroo state and will weed out any influence that seeks to paint this nation as such.

Foreign nationals have also fallen victim due to the system as they are often sold homes that are government property and meant for South African beneficiaries illegally.

We will be seizing back control of all illegally sold properties through evictions.

It is necessary to severe this chain of lawless individuals so as to reiterate that impunity has no place in Gauteng.

There are also imminent evictions of South Africans that have opted for the seditious route of hijacking properties as their actions are not
in line with the housing policy and are in direct contradiction to
what we seek to achieve.

In working with law enforcement we shall ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and successfully evicted from all properties that are currently occupied illegally.

In instances such as the one in Orange Grove, the public ought to work with law enforcement agencies and the Gauteng department of human settlements.

I am well aware that a vast number of officials benefit from undermining the system, however, my office remains accessible to deal with cases that are receiving little or no attention at municipal level.

Deserving recipients of houses who have registered as far back as 1996 have yet to receive homes. My office has compiled a list of beneficiaries that have registered in 1996 and I am committed to ensuring that these overlooked are at the top of the list.

There is only one way to decrease the housing backlog in Gauteng and that is through upholding the law and enforcing it.

Moiloa is the Gauteng human settlements MEC

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