53 land invasions on Public Works and Infrastructure Department properties, says De Lille

Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA) Archives
Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA) Archives

Cape Town: The Public Works and Infrastructure Department has experienced 53 land invasions on its properties across the country since last year.

The department was unsuccessful in preventing land invasion in 32 vacant properties and had instituted 12 cases of trespassing and/or eviction orders.

This was revealed by Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille when responding to parliamenatry questions from DA MP Samantha Graham.

Graham had asked about the number of vacant properties owned by her department in 2019 and 2020.

The breakdown of invasions to the department’s properties showed that Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape, lead the pack with 14 incidents, followed by nine each in Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit, as well as eight in Durban.

Cape Town recorded four instances, there were three each in Kimberley and Mmabatho, two in Polokwane and one in Bloemfontein.

De Lille said her department had deployed various strategies to prevent land invasions.

These included nine vacant plots of land where the department was planning to procure the services of the security companies to patrol the area.

She also said another strategy was forging relationship with municipalities to collaborate and share intelligence on the land prevention tactics.

“The department is also intending to collaborate with community leaders, civil activists and whistle blowers to receive information of potential threats on land invasion and act immediately upon receipt of such information to prevent further land invasions,” the minister said.

She said they would also report cases to police to assist with the arrest of the trespassers and the demolition of informal structures within 24 hours of their erection.

Meanwhile, Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola said the National Prosecuting Authority and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development had informed him that statistics relating to cases of illegal invasion of state-owned land, which were prosecuted in the past five financial years, had not been kept.

Lamola was responding to DA MP Jacques Julius, who asked about the number of cases of illegal invasion of land owned by the state that had been prosecuted, and the number of successful prosecutions in each province.

He said invasion of state property would normally constitute the civil offence of trespass.

“Complaints in this regard, would be submitted by municipalities. There is no record of cases opened by municipalities against trespassers in this regard,” Lamola said.

He said municipalities usually initiated civil proceedings and sought a court order for the eviction of unlawful land invaders.

“These cases would normally be enrolled on the civil case roll in various magistrates’ districts.”

He said some of these civil cases were often also settled out of court with the result that no case was actually registered on the court roll in such circumstances.

“It is for this reason that the statistics of these civil cases are not readily available,” Lamola said.

Reprinted from IOL (emphasis by SD Law*)

Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a firm of specialist eviction lawyers, based in Cape Town and now operating in Johannesburg and Durban, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need advice on the eviction process or if you are facing unlawful eviction.

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