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Land grabbers help themselves

The illegal occupation of land on the outskirts of the city continues, with the latest land grabbed being a mere 5km outside the city on the Mogwadi road.

POLOKWANE – The illegal occupation of land on the outskirts of the city continues, with the latest land grabbed being a mere 5km outside the city on the Mogwadi road.

It has not yet been ascertained whether this land belongs to the municipality, or if it is privately owned. At least 50 temporary shelters have already been built and are being occupied.

According to several of these land grabbers, who spoke to Review, they would officially claim the land as their own within a few days. They said they understood that they were entitled to do so, as once a structure had been built and people had occupied it for a few days, these occupants had a legal right to the land.

On further investigation by Review, it was discovered that a woman, known only as “Joyce”, claimed to be responsible for getting the names and contact numbers of people who were interested in securing a piece of land for themselves . “I take down the details of the soon-to-be land owners, as well as R10 each, which will be used to contact them to attend meetings about the land,” she explained. She declined to elaborate on who would be holding the meetings, refusing to confirm or deny whether any political party was involved.

The illegal occupation of various plots of land started at the beginning of April when thousands of people, hearing rumours that they could come and claim their free land, claimed stands and occupied some 800 ha of land on the northern side of the Matlala road. Quick action taken by the municipality and land owners seemingly stopped the invasion in its tracks in this area, only to see the invasion moving to the area on the Dendron road.

Municipal manager, Conny Mametja, confirmed that the latest land occupation was illegal. “We understand that these people need land but we strongly advise them not to take the law into their own hands, as this will lead to the police being called in,” she warned.

Settlers who spoke to Review said they did not care if they were acting illegally or not. “We are citizens of South Africa and we need land where we can prosper and have a free life. How can one person own so much land that he uses for nothing, while other people starve and have no place to live and call their own? It is not right,” Samuel Ledwaba, one of the settlers said.

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