Metro to 'formalise' invaded land

A woman whose shack was demolished tries to salvages the remains. File picture
A woman whose shack was demolished tries to salvages the remains. File picture
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality will “formalise” at least 20 informal areas that have been invaded illegally.

The human settlements committee, after a heated debate on the matter, agreed on Monday to proceed installing services.

The plan that was presented to the committee could see hundreds of residents who had invaded land illegally get access to basic services such as water and electricity.

The DA has, however, warned that the move goes against the national and provincial government’s stance on land invasions and would result in some people jumping the queue when others have been waiting for years for houses.

The city is facing a housing backlog of more than 84 000.  

The areas that are expected to receive services include Moegesukkel, M17 Motherwell, Gunguluza Area 10, Chatty, Kamesh Langa, Missionvale, Motherwell Nu29, Khayamnandi, Wells Estate and Govan Mbeki, among others.

In total, 20 areas are listed in the report.

In her report, human settlements boss Nolwandle Gqiba wrote that a screening process would be followed.

“Households will be pre-screened against the housing subsidy system to establish whether they qualify for a government subsidy.”

“Those that qualify will be settled systematically, but those that do not qualify will be redirected through a land disposal policy to alternative serviced sites to buy at market value or rent where they can start building their own houses through other options,” Gqiba wrote.

DA councillor Nqaba Bhanga said the move would result it people essentially jumping the housing list queue.

“There must be a serious moratorium in terms of these invasions; they must never be tolerated.

"At the Indaba, we agreed that to solve the crisis we must identify where these parcels of land are and profile them, whether they are suitable for people to reside there,” Bhanga said.

In August 2018, councillors at the housing Indaba decided that a moratorium would be placed on evictions.

The Indaba was preceded by a motion by the ANC wherein a decision was taken that council would be make the final decision on any evictions.

Bhanga said: “There must be a plan. These people can’t jump the queue; anybody who thinks that these people have a right to jump the queue and bypass the people of Ekuphumleni who have been waiting for 25 years is mistaken,” Bhanga said.

“This is what we have always rejected, that these people want to jump the queue. The people who have been waiting for 25 years must not be forgotten because of people who invaded land two years ago. Those people are important. If these people are going to be given priority, that is unfair and the DA will not support that,” Bhanga said.

Bhanga said they would support the plan on condition that queue jumping would not be tolerated.

DA councillor Duncan Monks warned that the report lacked basic information of how the formalisation would be rolled out.

“Whether we agree or disagree on this item, it does not take us forward. We want this implementation but we need to know how. This could amount to millions of rands and we have not evaluated that.

“This also goes against many decisions that we have made in the past. This includes the recommendations that were done when the ANC led the last time.

"This goes against national and provincial decisions. This goes against correct beneficiary management. We are taking a stance that goes against correct beneficiary management, surely this committee doesn’t support that,” Monks said.

DA councillor Masixole Zinto urged councillors to be responsible in how they handle land invasions. 

“There was a housing Indaba and concerns were raised around how we can move people to serviced sites, but now you are saying let’s formalise these areas. I’m saying we must be responsible. The housing Indaba belonged to all of us and it was very successful we must follow what was said there."

Meanwhile, ANC councillor Sizwe Jodwana suggested that a workshop for all councillors be called.

“This will affect all ward councillors because ward councillors are the most affected by land invasions. We are talking about people who have invaded land illegally. What are we saying that to those who have been on the waiting list for many years,” Jodwana said.

Jodwana said he was concerned that the move would lead to more problems.

“Are we not saying to them that invading is correct if they will get the land? At the end of the day we are going to suffer the consequences of this. If we are going to consider people who invaded land before people on the list, we are going to have a serious problem,”

Gqiba said a workshop would be held to outline the process.

“Budget and how we are going to avoid queue jumping, those are the things that need to be communicated and thrashed out in the workshop."

Gqiba said the provincial and national department of human settlements would be invited to attend the workshop.

“They are the ones who will be responsible for the screening of beneficiaries,” Gqiba said.