South Africa: Solution to Lenasia Will Not Cover Criminals - Sexwale

press release

Photo: UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein
Demolished Homes (file photo): South Africa's govt promises to build low cost housing in Lenasia.

A Special Lenasia Intervention Team has been set up to find immediate solution to the problems of illegal land occupation and the demolition of houses in Lenasia South, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale announced today.

The Team will meet on Wednesday in Pretoria and has a week to report back to Minister Sexwale on its proposals, before these are tabled before the community.

Human Settlements Director-General Thabane Zulu will lead the team of officials from the Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing, the Housing Development Agency, the National Home Builders Registration Council, the Special Investigating Unit, the South African Police Service, the City of Johannesburg, the Human Rights Commission, the Legal Resources Centre and will also consist of all affected parties in Lenasia.

"The solution will not cover criminals and we are not prepared to negotiate with such. It would be dangerous for government to do that criminals will be prosecuted," Sexwale told community members at Lenasia South Civic Centre.

The Minister said everyone had to accept that the land they built their houses on was government land which was fraudulently acquired and that those who received it could be categorized as "the innocent victims" and those who colluded with unscrupulous syndicates.

"I hope the innocent are more because government is here to help you find a solution to the problem. We are prepared to work with you provided you work with us and people must come forward so that government can assist them individually with their problems," he said.

National government was fully behind the Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing and noted the out-of-court settlement that emphasized the need to seize demolition of illegally built houses and a commitment to discontinue any construction from now onwards.

Sexwale said the South Gauteng High Court wanted all parties to find an amicable solution to the problem of illegal construction and occupation of government land, but the order was not to protect criminals.

The problem of illegal land occupation in Lenasia was a "middle class scandal" and was not about the poor as the illegal houses being built there were double and sometimes triple storey.

"The innocent must not suffer. Cabinet would like to see a solution that is legal and sustainable. Where people are innocent we should help but there should also be no doubt about our resolve," said Sexwale.

A Special Lenasia Intervention Team has been set up to find immediate solution to the problems of illegal land occupation and the demolition of houses in Lenasia South, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale announced today.

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