Despite a court order, land occupations are continuing to take place in Marlboro Gardens, Gauteng, leaving residents frustrated.
“My family is residents at Marlboro Gardens and there are land grabs happening just right outside our house, across the street, where there is vacant land,” Masego Setlhodi told News 24.
Setlhodi said the occupation of land had resulted in increased levels of crime in the area.
“The main box has burnt down twice; we have been out of electricity for seven days when this happened. They are even defecating and urinating right outside our wall,” she added.
“The community of Marlboro is under the DA council; the ward councilor is Mr Werner Smit. He has been nothing but ineffective in dealing with this issue,” Setlhodi said.
WhatsApp messages seen by News24 show that there have been several engagements with Smit, the Ward 109 councilor.
Smit, in one WhatsApp message, explains that he has no executive powers and that he would be escalating the issues to the chief whip.
“I have zero executive powers, my efforts don’t translate into action. Phone the mayor’s office,” he wrote.
In another message, sent to residents on Christmas Eve, Smit acknowledges the growing issue of land occupations in Malboro and calls for urgent intervention.
“We do need urgent intervention. In order for that to happen, we need JMPD to work hand in hand with the South African Police Services,” he said.
When newsmen spoke to Smit, he confirmed that a court order had been issued to remove those occupying the land.
“This is an old problem which started in the 90s. People have been relocated from that land and other new people would arrive and occupy it. There has been a massive increase of people occupying the land between Marlboro Gardens and Sejwetla informal settlement. The land is reserved for Alexandra land restitution.
“The grabbing affects Setjwetla residents and there has been a general increase of lawlessness in the area. This problem needs a political [intervention],” said Smit.
He added that, in 2014, when Setjwetla residents were given access to electricity, land occupiers had caused disruptions and connected electricity illegally, overstressing the power grid and leaving it on the verge of collapse. The situation had affected both Setjwetla and Marlboro Gardens residents.
JMPD spokesperson Tessa Adams said that they had a court order to remove people from the land. But, after removing and demolishing the shacks, they had returned.
“We are busy consulting with our legal team from the municipality on whether to go and remove them, using the same court order or if we should obtain another court order. We are waiting for the response from our legal unit. As soon as we have been properly advised, we will take necessary steps,” Adams said.