Illegal land invasions attempts have increased to over 1 070
Since July 2020 to the second week of April 2021 there have been 1 078 attempts of illegal land invasions across the Western Cape, with the majority being in the City of Cape Town. For the 2020/21 financial year, the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements spent more than R 355,8 million to prevent illegal land invasions and the occupation of completed units.
This means, with the exclusion of the bulk services, more than 2 100 Breaking New Ground (BNG)/free housing units could’ve been built.
These illegal invasions remain of great concern to the Western Cape Government (WCG), as it continues to impact on our ability to deliver housing opportunities to already identified, deserving, qualifying and potential beneficiaries that have patiently and legally been waiting on the Housing Demand Database (HDD).
I’d like to call on all landowners, both public and private to ensure that their land and other properties are fully protected against these illegal invasion attempts, and that criminal cases are opened against those who are encouraging, leading and participating in these unlawful activities. It is important that the criminal element face the full might of the law.
The recent events in Grabouw, where public land and completed units were illegally invaded quite clearly shows why it is vital that the relevant and legal steps are taken to prevent these activities.
As the WCG we’re currently in court seeking to ensure that the legal remedy of counter-spoliation which recognises an owner's right to immediately retake possession of unlawfully seized property, without approaching a court first is protected, as we deem this as both constitutional and necessary.
As it takes in excess of 1 500 days for a brand-new human settlements project to be completed to the point of handover to beneficiaries, we cannot have illegal and avoidable delays that increases the waiting period for our vulnerable citizens that are desperate need to improve their circumstances.
We’re constantly seeing how projects are delayed due to these invasions. In fact, the delivery of housing opportunities can be delayed by 3 months to 5 years, and in rare instances even longer. Having the elderly, individuals living with medically certified disabilities, those who’ve been on the Housing Demand Database (HDD) for 15 years and longer and backyard dwellers, wait even longer due to these illegal invasions is unacceptable and uncalled for.
It is important that we receive assistance from our citizenry to avoid these illegal invasions. The more the various stakeholders, including the different spheres of government and especially our national law enforcement agencies, work together, the more we can ensure that these illegal invasions are prevented - and where they might’ve occurred, the illegal invaders can swiftly be removed in accordance with the law.
We can only start addressing the housing backlog, which is currently at almost 600 000 in the Western Cape, if we all work together to end this criminal behaviour.
Those with a genuine housing need must ensure that they are registered on the housing demand database and if they are, to verify and update their details. This can be done on the WCG App which is available on all iOS and Android platforms for download or they can visit their nearest housing office. In addition to this, they should also engage the relevant structures such as Project Steering Committees (PSC’s) and Ward Councillors to receive factual information, and not allow those with ill intentions to mislead them.
This will only lead to disappointment at the hands of dubious individuals who do not have their best interests at heart. These individuals seek to disrupt and break our communities down by offering false promises and inaccurate information. Government has no such vested interest – we are there to uplift and serve you.
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.