Residents in Alexandra, Johannesburg, plan to shut down the streets today in protest of rampant land invasions in the township, ostensibly organised by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Community members said several attempts to convince the City of Joburg to have illegal and often dangerously placed settlements dismantled have fallen on deaf ears.
Residents, as well as the ANC in Joburg, blame the EFF.
ANC Johannesburg spokesperson Jolidee Matongo said the party had no doubt the EFF was behind the illegal land occupations and that the Democratic Alliance-led city council was powerless to stop them because of their coalition agreements in several municipalities, including Johannesburg.
He said the EEF had convinced people not to follow the Gauteng government’s rapid land release programme and resort to criminality, instead.
EFF Gauteng chairperson Mandisa Mashego had not replied to The Citizen’s questions by the time of going to print.
More than 60 shacks were destroyed last month, when a line carrying about 88 kilovolts of electricity fell onto a settlement built on invaded land, directly beneath power pylons.
Resident Lesego Raekwa said thousands of lives were being put in danger because of this and several other settlements around ward 105.
“We are having a problem with these land invasions because they are affecting our service delivery, our water and electricity gets cut because of illegal connections and the crime rates become high, especially where they have recently built next to a school,” she said.
The community was often afraid to engage the invaders, claiming residents had been met with threats of violence by their new neighbours, she added.
“Julius Malema told people in the country to just take any piece of land which they like, and that is dangerous because you cannot just build shacks underneath pylons, you cannot just build shacks next to a school.
“You can imagine the way crime – and even rape – is out of control now.”
Another concerned resident, Sandile Mavundla, said conditions in the township had deteriorated since the onset of illegal land occupations mushroomed in Alexandra.
“People are taking all pockets of free land to set up illegal structures and are connecting water and electricity illegally, which is why we are always in load shedding,” said Mavundla.
He said the township had become dilapidated, run down and unhealthy, due to lack of basic service delivery, with potholes and uncut grass and rubbish strewn all over the streets.