Durban - Orchestrated land invasions of various properties owned by eThekwini municipality, which have run unchecked in recent months, can now be stopped. The city, the provincial housing department and the police have been given the legal clout to stamp out the action.
The provincial housing department recently secured a Durban High Court interim order, granted by Judge Piet Koen, and extended on Friday, which allows the city and the police to demolish structures and evict people who occupy or attempt to invade 37 provincial housing department properties that have been earmarked for low-cost housing or are in the process of being developed.
The order is significant in that it does not oblige the municipality to follow the provisions of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, which stipulates that certain steps be taken before people can be evicted, which in some cases requires providing alternative accommodation.
In an affidavit, housing department senior property manager Balakazi Madikizela said an investigation had revealed that “unlawful land invasions were taking place on an extremely wide scale”.
“The target has been vacant and/or unoccupied properties within the municipality. The properties are earmarked for housing developments and other public services. The invaders seek to ensconce themselves in the properties they invade, and then expect to be placed ahead of other persons on the housing waiting lists of the municipality,” he said.
Properties in Queensburgh, Cato Manor, Mayville and Bonela have been targeted during the invasions.
In the Cato Manor case, The Mercury reported in March that more than 1 000 people – whose homes had been demolished to make way for formal low-cost housing in Cato Crest – began clearing land in Sherwood and close to Manor Gardens with the intention of building shacks. They were removed after the municipality obtained an interdict.
Madikizela said the municipality had also expressed concern about the ongoing land invasions, but were reluctant to act without a court order in place. - iOL News
Yesterday I wrote about families being forcefully removed from the only homes they had, because they don't have enough money to rent or buy "legal" housing. Of course, when their only choices include living on the street, living in cramped apartheid-era housing or shacks with extended family or erecting shacks on government property - many will choose to erect their own shacks.
The lack of money drives men to do what they might otherwise not do willingly. Interesting that their simple status within society as "poor", "shack-dweller", "land-grabber", "homeless", is enough for them to be ostracized. The government, local businesses, large businesses, residents, citizens, parents, grandparents - everyone looks at the poor with disgust, mistrust and sometimes even hatred - simply because they are unlucky enough to be in the large part of the global population living in poverty.
What other choices do they have? They search for jobs, wait in blistering heat, wait in the freezing cold, stand in queues for hours, do the work no one else will for so little money that they almost may as well not have earned any. You say they are lazy? You have never been in South Africa - you have never seen the labourers working 9 hours a day, 6 days a week in 40 degree heat or 5 degree cold, hard manual labour that first world countries use machines for - and still earn under the poverty line. They have no chance for advancement and have no retirement fund - when their bodies give out then they have no means of earning an income. Manual labourers are the hardest working people there are - but are paid the least.
How did this come about, that we shun the weak and exploit the needy? Should every person not have a safe home that will not collapse about them, or be in danger of being torn down simply because its inhabitants do not have a piece of paper that gives them "the right" to live there? Is that really the manifestation of human rights? To take away that which is so vital, from those who do not have the means or opportunity to help themselves?
Our constitutions and bills of rights the world over stipulate the right to decent housing - why is this being disregarded? If the president of South Africa can spend R200 million on his own private village, why can we not provide adequate housing for the MILLIONS of people living in informal or inadequate housing?
Where are the rights of the poor, the needy, the helpless, the weak? It seems that only those with money have rights.