Since I took office in May 2019, I have been confronted with many attempts from various groups to illegally occupy vacant land which have been identified for Human Settlement Development, and in some instances even completed projects have seen invasions and vandalism. I am concerned at the recent upsurge in illegal land invasions across the Western Cape.
There have been various reports from Botrivier in the Theewaterskloof Municipality, Montague and Robertson in the Langeberg Municipality and also in certain areas across the Cape Metro. The City of Cape Town has reported that since January 2019 to 14 June 2020, they’ve had 209 cases of land invasions.
What we are observing is that even though illegal land invaders are warned not to move on to environmentally protected or sensitive land, such as low-lying areas, which can easily be flooded during storms, this is simply ignored.
These unlawful actions only leads to a delay in our ability to deliver houses to so many who are in dire need of a housing opportunity, as damage to units will have to be fixed and illegal land occupants would have to be removed. In both instances it could take a very long time and is invariably a costly exercise, and the ripple effect is that those waiting, will wait a lot longer.
I have instructed my Department to ensure that security at our human settlements developments and construction sites are strengthened, as there is a clear attempt by some in this province to act in an unlawful manner. It is critical that these illegal actions be stopped. I also call on communities to assist us in this regard and immediately report any illegal land or home invasions to law enforcement agencies.
While some of those who act in this way have a genuine housing need, there are some who are using the current COVID-19 regulations to effectively jump the housing queue. This happens at the expense of many others who have been on the Housing Demand Database (HDD) for a very long time. I wish to place on record that queue jumpers will quite simply not be tolerated.
As the Provincial Department of Human Settlements, we’ve been demonstrating our commitment to all those that are on the HDD. We have a set of criteria, which we are applying to prioritise the following:
- The elderly;
- People with disabilities;
- Backyard dwellers (the first Province to formally do so) and
- Those who have been the longest on the waiting list (15 years and longer).
I appeal to all those with a real housing need to ensure they are registered on the HDD, and if they are already registered, to either update or verify their information. It is also important to be patient.
We remain committed to work with and assist all Municipalities across the Province to ensure they’re able to deliver housing opportunities to their respective qualifying residents, particularly those as set out in our criteria, within the limited available budget.
As the Western Cape Government, we remain committed to accelerating human settlement delivery, while promoting social inclusion through the development of integrated, resilient, safe and sustainable human settlements in an open opportunity society.