Land invasion hits Alex

A land invader digs foundations for his home.

About 100 land invaders claiming to be from Ext 9 have illegally occupied two pieces of municipal land in East Bank, which they were clearing, and digging foundations for houses, on 14 June.

They claimed to have occupied the area along Vincent Tshabalala Road in Ext 9 the previous day. This, while another group resumed the invasion on a different empty piece of land near the Kwa-Bhekilanga Sports Ground where it was said they were stopped by councillor Teffo Rapadu in the presence of the police. The invaded areas are in his Ward 105.

The invaders said their action was prompted by the endemic housing crisis in the township, saying it impoverished them further through rentals of R1 800 paid to landlords of shacks.

The situation on the invaded land appeared tense with Metro police parked on the road monitoring the area and said to be waiting for reinforcement from the police’s public order policing unit.

Read: Lombardy West land invasion dies down, for now.

The invaders blamed government for their woes saying it had reneged on promised houses under the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RPD). They claimed that most houses constructed in the area under the RDP were allocated to non-Alex residents and some to foreign nationals.

They added that costly shack rentals compounded their desperation as most of them were unemployed or survived on piece jobs. Also, they alleged that local councillors were aware of their plight but appeared helpless, while others allegedly sold land in corrupt deals while they suffered in desperation, particularly during winter.

Councillor Adolph Marema.

Hector Hlongwane said the occupied area was notorious for crime and they should be commended as it was also a safety measure. “Women are raped, people mugged and sometimes killed, nyaope addicts and muggers hide in this area,” he said adding that they intended to construct brick houses and not shacks.

Thandeka Hlongwane said her child was molested and sexually abused while passing through the area. Eugene Manasoe said the place was impassable after dark and they had to burn the long grass which was neglected by council. “We also picked up purses and wallets of robbery victims and there are claims of murder-victim corpses found here.

Read: Illegal shacks reach new heights

Collen Makhubela claimed that members of the South Africa police urged them not to be confrontational while the matter was being addressed.

While he didn’t condone their action, a local councillor, Adolph Marema said the invaders’ desperation was understandable but, their plight shouldn’t be exploited for gain by political parties.

He said local councillors had urged council to create a rapid response team to assist Metro police to curb invasions while it worked alongside government to find a lasting solution. Also, he urged council to speed up the creation and implementation of a master plan regarding housing, which, he said, was jointly agreed upon by the previous city administration with provincial government and stakeholders.

This, he said, would ensure people were settled properly, in safe areas and not on river banks or below electricity pylons, as happened on the invaded site. The master plan he said would de-densify Alex and enable the provision of adequate services.

Read: MUST READ: Alex drug mule exposes church for her near death ordeal in a foreign land

There will be a follow-up on developments.

Details: Councillor Teffo Rapadu 074 351 4843; Adolph Marema 079 617 1957.

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