Maile blames illegal land grabs for growing informal settlements
Residents need to be relocated to a safe place, according to the Human Settlements MEC.
Booysen informal residents rebuild their shacks during the visit by the deprtment of Social department to give groceries afterthey lost everything from fire in Johannesburg on Friday, 27 January 2021. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Lebogang Maile says the growing number of informal settlements across the province are a result of land invasions.
This follows the deaths of five children in a shack fire at the Itireleng informal settlement near Laudium, Pretoria.
Visiting the area on Monday, Maile told reporters illegal land invasions were the one of root causes of growing informal settlements in Gauteng.
“The problem is issues of illegal invasions. Some of the municipalities don’t have the capacity and the resources to prevent the mushrooming of more informal settlements,” he said.
According to Maile, the number of informal settlements has increased from 300 to 700 in the province since 2016.
“We are sitting more than 700 informal settlements in Gauteng,” he said.
“We are dealing with a real issue… these are unhygienic, unhealthy conditions and we certainly don’t want to see people living in such conditions.”
Maile said residents needed to be relocated to a safe place.
“Here in the City of Tshwane, as government, we have allocated at least more than R1 billion to firstly provide temporary services because once people are here, you can’t say you are not going to service them because the informally… there are issues of human rights that we must attend to.
“Secondly, there are informal settlements like this one which must be relocated because this place is not habitable. It’s a big challenge for government.”
The MEC called on residents to work with the provincial government to help tackle land grabs and to ensure that those who live in informal settlements are registered and accounted for when such incidents happen.
“We will also ask the municipality to come and verify to make sure that no one pays rent because these informal settlements are illegal.”
Recent shack fires
Firefighters from the City of Tshwane’s emergency services department arrived at the scene of the blaze on Sunday morning and recovered the children’s bodies, which were burnt beyond recognition.
The children – three boys aged 2, 4 and 6, and two girls aged 17 months and 7 years – belonged to two sisters, who have since been taken into police custody.
It was alleged the children’s mothers left them in one of the shacks and went to a nearby tavern.
The cause of the fire was still unknown as police investigations continue.
The City of Johannesburg has seen a number of shack fires in recent times, with incidents also reported in Diepsloot and other areas in the metro.
At least 10 shacks were gutted in a fire at an informal settlement in Denver last week.
The body of a 30-year-old man, who succumbed to smoke inhalation, was recovered.
Four people died in two separate shack fires reported in Orange Farm and Matholesville earlier this month.