Cape Argus: Anti-land invasion unit gets R10m budget

Anti-land invasion unit gets R10m budget

June 08, 2009 Edition 1

Brenda Nkuna

THE City of Cape Town is spending R10 million in the current financial year to fund its Anti-Land Invasion Unit.

This is to safeguard housing projects it says “are being threatened by systematically planned and executed land invasions”.

But anti-eviction organisations have slammed the unit, saying the money could be better spent elsewhere.

They have warned that the unit’s existence will lead to “war” between communities and the city.

The unit, established to monitor, stop and evict those who attempt to erect shacks illegally, addressed 29 land invasions during the 2008/09 financial year, according to its head, Steve Hayward.

These included 17 in Helderberg, six in Tygerberg, two in the South/Central region and four in Blaauwberg.

Hayward said that in all 29 land invasions the unit had succeeded in removing people from city-owned land. It had obtained eight court interdicts to prevent people from further occupying land.

In the latest high-profile incident, Macassar backyarders invaded city-owned land on May 19. The invasion saw rubber bullets being fired by police and the backyarders being evicted.

Hayward said that in the Macassar case structures had been taken down and building material confiscated, but that the material had been returned to the backyarders last week.

Macassar backyarders argue that their eviction was illegal, but Hayward denied this, arguing that the backyarders had attempted to take land “in an unlawful manner”.

Anti-Eviction Campaign spokesman Mncedisi Twalo said he was “upset” by the way the unit had treated backyarders, and warned of mobilisation in the Western Cape because of what he described as people being “unfairly” treated.

He said while expensive infrastructure such as malls were being built, there were thousands in need of houses.

Cape Town’s housing backlog is estimated at 400 000.

Twalo was critical of the money allocated to the unit, arguing that “so much money could have been used to build houses, instead of going to a unit that has formed war between communities and the city”. – West Cape News