The illegal invasion of land is hampering housing delivery and the development of dignified communities, according to mayor Athol Trollip.
Speaking a week after violent protests along the N2 and Wells Estate last week over land evictions, Trollip warned against attempts to jump the housing queue, saying this would not be tolerated.
Meanwhile, an hour before Trollip’s media conference, a group of Motherwell residents gathered at the Motherwell police station to hand over a petition to the police urging them to release the two people who were arrested for public violence stemming from last week’s protests.
One of the residents, Msindisi Makeleni, said: “We want those two members to be released because we don’t know why they have been arrested. One of them was on his way to work.”
Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said on Monday that their investigations had led to the arrest of two men, one aged 42 and the other 34.
The police are investigating 10 cases which range from public violence to the damaging of roads and burning of vehicles.
Makeleni complained about eviction orders that were sent months ago warning residents about evictions within 48 hours, but not carried out until last week.
“We get those eviction notices but the time passes. We should not be evicted without alternative plans because we have already settled,” Makeleni said.
Trollip, meanwhile, said the city could only deliver houses on identified vacant land, and the invasions hampered the government’s efforts to do so. “In Khayamnandi, of the 1 013 serviced sites that have been made available for the people, many of those sites have been invaded by the queue jumpers.
“Another big challenge for us, and that is relevant to Wells Estate and Motherwell, is that when people were protesting about housing, they chose to break the law and stone vehicles that aren’t theirs.
“And they prevented economic activity by burning down logistical vehicles moving produce to and from the city – that becomes a matter of law.
“It is not a matter of hostility by an administration or being insensitive or being draconian, it’s about applying the law,” Trollip said.
He said the police and sheriff of the court had informed the city that there were no more than 20 people living at the informal settlement in Wells Estate despite hundreds of informal structures having been erected there.
This, Trollip believes, is a claim for future property.
The metro’s political head of human settlements, councillor Nqaba Bhanga, said they were compiling a transparent housing database.
He said occupying land or a shack would not determine who was given a house first.