19 November 2012

South Africa: Gauteng Government Continues With Demolition of Illegally Built Structures in Lenasia

Photo: Nombulelo Damba/WCN
A destroyed house (file photo): The site of families fighting for their homes has touched a chord for many South Africans.

press release

The Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing will go ahead with the demolition of illegally built structures which continue to be erected despite repeated warnings and extensive coverage in the media. The current court order granting permission to the department to demolish illegal structures in Lenasia is not affected by the current Human Rights Commission (HRC) application in court.

The expose on the illegal sale of land by the public broadcaster has strengthened the department's resolve to stop this practice. In responding to the expose yesterday, MEC Mekgwe was shocked that people continue to sell stands illegally despite all the coverage in the media on the department's stance on demolitions.

"This is just an indication of how culprits and syndicates are disrespectful of our country's laws. Its business as usual, corruption is going on and theft of government land is continuing. With this expose, we hope all these fraudsters will be brought to book." said MEC Mekgwe. She further said that this expose vindicates the government's decision to demolish illegally built structures. "As a caring government, we have always maintained that our decision was correct, and that ours was a fight against corruption and organised crime which robs our poor people of the opportunity to own a home", MEC Mekgwe said.

The department's Anti-Corruption Unit and the South African Police Service (SAPS) today raided Lenasia South (Ext4) and demolished 35 structures built illegally on government land. The incomplete structures demolished were all unoccupied, and there were no people living in them.

Investigations by the department's Anti-Fraud and Corruption Unit revealed that fraudsters sold several stands ranging from R 2 500 to R 95 000 and issued buyers with fraudulent Deeds of Sale which bore the department's official logo. This led to illegal houses being erected on the department's land by illegal buyers, without the department's and the municipality's authority.

Local Government and Housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said the department will stop at nothing until all the illegal structures have been removed from the state land. "The land belongs to us and we will do anything to make sure that it returns back to us. We have given these people enough time to vacate the land but our calls where ignored and now we have been left with no options but demolish these structures," said Mekgwe.

She said the department was sending a strong message that it is serious in dealing with corruption and land invasion. "We are also going to investigate how some of these people managed to get hold of electricity meter boxes. Someone will need to answer as these people are using electricity illegally which could lead to load shedding," said Mekgwe.

She reiterated the call to people to double check with deeds office when they want to buy land before parting with their monies.

To date three fraudsters have been found guilty and serving sentences ranging from three to six years in prison. Another suspect will appear at Johannesburg Commercial Court in December.

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