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Illegal land grabbers in Midrand rebuild days after JMPD’s operation to remove them

Gauteng Department of Human Settlement spokesperson says land invasions disrupt and delay development.

Following the demolishing and removal of about 2 000 plastic shacks in Midrand by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), there have been allegations that the structures were torched by the authorities.

Illegal land invaders try to salvage what they can following a fire that gutted their shacks. Photo: Sphiwe Masilela

When Midrand Reporter contacted JMPD spokesperson Xolani Fihla surrounding the allegations and if it was being investigated, Fihla said, “The JMPD Internal Affairs Unit has not received a formal complaint regarding the matter.”

JMPD spokesperson Officer Xolani Fihla says more land invasion operations are needed. Photo: Motlatsi Mailula

According to Fihla, JMPD removed the alleged illegal land occupiers and demolished their shacks on the corner of Allandale Road and K101 in Midrand on December 31 last year and again on January 13 this year. The Red Ants assisted JMPD in January and on this day, a trail of destruction followed as a fire gutted through the shacks shortly after the demolition started. The land occupiers returned soon after the destruction ended to salvage what they could and many started rebuilding once more.
While it is not clear who started the fire, the shack dwellers claimed it was started by the authorities and the Red Ants. In earlier communication with Fihla, he had said, “JMPD condemns officials from burning or destroying any belongings, and if that is the case, the department requests any tangible evidence for disciplinary action to be taken.”

Fire ravages through a plastic shack on the corner of Allandale Road and the K101 in Midrand. Photo: Sphiwe Masilela

Fihla believes there is a dire need to remove illegal land invaders in Midrand.
Fihla said, “Various spheres of government have to be roped in to assist in ensuring that the invaders are removed permanently, and these include, Human Settlement Department and Social Development, Home Affairs [Immigration] and the South African Police Services.”

When asked by Midrand Reporter why the Red Ants were involved in these operations, he said the Red Ants were a service provider for the JMPD regarding illegal land occupation operations.

Gauteng Department of Human Settlement spokesperson Tahir Sema said the department was aware of an increased number of land invasions near or around central business districts in the province by those seeking economic opportunities.

Gauteng Department of Human Settlement spokesperson Tahir Sema

He said appropriate action would be taken against those who broke the law by invading land. “The land invaded is owned by different owners such as the government, its entities, or private owners. The department is against any form of property and or land invasions regardless of who is the owner because invasions disturb and delay development,” said Sema.

He said the invasions also posed a danger to the invaders when the land was near busy roads and railway lines.

Sema concluded the department was part of an inter-governmental task team that included municipalities and law enforcement authorities who dealt with land invasions in the province.

Land invaders try to salvage some of their belonging following the burning of their plastic shacks which they allege was perpetrated by the JMPD and the Red Ants. Photo: Sphiwe Masilela

The Midrand Reporter did approach the alleged illegal land occupiers for their side of the story, however, none wished to go on record.

ALSO READ: UPDATE: An increase of illegal land invasion leads to authorities’ operation on Allandale and K101 roads

‘Invaders have people who lead them’

Ward 110 councillor Angelinah Mphaho has expressed her concerns about invaders occupying land at the corner of Allandale Road and K101.

Ward 110 councillor Angelinah Mphaho (third from right) addresses invaders near Boulders Taxi Rank. Photo: Comfort Makhanya
(For lead 2)

According to the councillor, she has received complaints from residents concerning their safety as many of them use the road to get to work.

Mphaho said the invaders have occupied that piece of land for many years and they believe they were entitled to live there as they pay money to certain groups claiming they sell land or stands.

“First, the land invaders have people who lead them. Most of the invaders are not from the ward and some are foreigners,” said Mphaho.

Big bags filled with different recyclable items near the R101 in Midrand. Photo: Sphiwe Masilela

“Remember, the invaders are obliged to pay their leaders some money at their public meetings. These are not ordinary people [leaders], they sometimes use clauses in our Constitution to justify their action of invading the land and they target municipal and provincial land.
“The complaints of property owners are genuine due to matters related to service delivery… it is the duty of law enforcement agencies to remove them. Metro police demolish their makeshift shacks and take their materials and they should continue doing so.”

Vox Pops: Local residents were asked by Midrand Reporter how the illegal invasion of land affects their livelihood, this is what they had to say…

MAXWELL NEMATADZIRA: Our law enforcement always responds late and the invaders think that they own everything they illegally took.
MUSA KHOSA: The JMPD only acts now as if these people occupied the land yesterday. These people are dangerous as you can not pass Allandale corner at night or even after work.
MELUSI RATEMA: These people have been here for many years, they are now being removed because there are many and are visible. Years back you would hardly see the squatters when passing by but they were there.

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