Nelson Mandela Bay to form policy on dealing with property invasions
Moratorium called on Bay land evictions
All land evictions in Nelson Mandela Bay will be placed on hold until the municipality draws up a policy to deal with invasions in the city.
The decision was taken at the three-day human settlements housing indaba at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.
Human settlements’ political head Nqaba Bhanga, who previously took a hardline approach towards invasions, insisting that anyone who invaded land illegally should be evicted, said that metro officials would now adopt a new, less combative stance.
The plan is to hold off on evictions until a policy is drafted and approved on how to deal with the scourge of land invasions across the city.
Officials hope to have the policy adopted in October.
Bhanga said that a new era would unfold in which the municipality would take informed decisions before carrying out evictions.
It had agreed to unblock more than 5,000 serviced sites through integrated planning among all stakeholders, Bhanga said.
“We have to unlock and unblock serviced sites. We have [more than] 5,000 unoccupied serviced sites.
“However, the reason they are not yet occupied is [due] to the people who are invading those sites.
“We have also agreed on focusing on informal settlements where officials will be dispatched to check who is [currently occupying the land], are they eligible to receive a house, and who is not.”
Bhanga also spoke about the importance of ensuring the money spent on any housing development project remained a source of wealth for small businesses in the metro.
“In Nelson Mandela Bay, we want the money that we spend on housing to remain as a source of wealth in Nelson Mandela Bay – we do not want people who are selling projects.
“As agreed in the mayoral committee meeting, anyone giving [their project] to someone to do it [on their behalf] will be blacklisted.”
Bhanga said officials would open up a training centre for SMMEs to ensure they had the proper capacity to handle big projects.
The metro would also strengthen project management staff to ensure proper oversight of housing projects.
Bhanga said the development of skilling centres would enable a South African-first approach in employing skilled workers to develop sites to combat unemployment.
“The extent of poverty among South Africans is becoming a problem,” he said.
National department of human settlements director-general Mbulelo Tshangana pledged the department’s support for the plans.
“We are encouraged by these plans,” he said.
“Discussions here at the indaba also indicate that with good co-operation among all spheres of government, the future is bright.
“The department is committed to supporting the municipality in its plans at different levels, including capacity and funding.”
The indaba was attended by stakeholders from the banking sector, construction business representatives, small, medium and large human settlements agencies such as the Housing Development Agency and the National Housing Board Regulatory Council, and the councillors of the municipality.