A petition was yesterday handed over to opposition leader in the provincial legislature, the DA’s Solly Msimanga, calling for action against the 300 people who have built shacks illegally near the corner of Nossob and Jochemus streets, east of the city.
The petition, with approximately 3000 signatures, follows months of complaints and concerns, according to community representative Francois Bekker, a former ward councillor.
“When we were in government in Pretoria we tried to keep it at bay through operations. In the past three months it exploded to become this, and if left unattended, it will become a serious risk as it extends all the way to Solomon Mahlangu Drive.
“Having the settlement here has since seen residents complain, quite rightfully – crime is rising. We took this petition to the Tshwane administrators’ office and we got no joy or response. Now we are handing this over to Msimanga to take to the province.”
After receiving the memorandum, Msimanga said: “If you look at the spruit you can see the number of poles and dirt, which then begs the question of what is going to happen when it starts raining.
“If it starts raining it will be a disaster and people will be swept away. And the government will be blamed because there was no action on the matter.
“We have a committee meeting, and I will present this petition. We cannot have land invaded the way it is being done.
“People should be catered for, we agree, but in an orderly manner. This is something we are going to be taking forward, the number of signatures are our residents’ voices, they must be heard.”
Msimanga, a former Pretoria mayor, expressed concern at what he said was “a trend of land invasion and the government not doing much about it”.
“Atteridgeville and Mamelodi are examples of this, and residents suffer as some of this land is earmarked for development and to benefit residents, but it is invaded.
“It inhibits development in Atteridgeville Extension 19. I signed off on it but look what happens, and you cannot have bulk infrastructure where people have invaded because then who do you move to insert pipes and other poles for services? That is why we say there has to be order in this process.
“There are also sales of stands. In Atteridgeville people buy stands for R15000 and R20 000. How do you buy a stand where you don’t even get a title deed and worse, build with brick and mortar? When it is taken down it’s another thing.”
He said a multi-pronged operation was needed with several departments to deal with the issues, as there were women and children living in inhumane conditions and exposed to various risks.
“We will follow this up and certainly give feedback to our residents.”
Public representative and resident in the area Darryl Johnston expressed concern on the pollution that goes into the Wolwespruit, which feeds into various rivers.
“The ecological impacts are quite severe and need to be looked at as the area has been declared a wetland. We need to find a solution for these people as well so they do not live in such inhumane conditions, and safeguard the environment,” said Johnston.
ANC spokesperson in the provincial legislature, MPL Lesego Makhubela, said they condemned the increasing cases of illegal sale of land around various parts of the province, particularly in Pretoria.
“These criminal syndicates not only rob people of their hard-earned money, but also disrupt the development and implementation of human settlement projects that are addressing the challenges of lack of housing.
“We therefore call on members of the public to report anyone, including councillors, involved in the illegal sale of stands.”
The ANC Youth League regional leader and former Pretoria councillor said there was demonstrable progress in the roll-out of mega human settlement projects.
“We acknowledge the persistent challenges of lack of housing, we urge our people to be vigilant and not fall prey to scams.
“We condemn the irresponsible and opportunistic calls by some populist political parties for people to illegally occupy land. Unapproved and unplanned informal settlements often result in negative impact on provision of basic services including water and electricity. Illegal electricity connections not only pose danger but also damage infrastructure, which results in power cuts.”
Makhubela said every illegal sale of land and occupation resulted in disruption and delays of housing development that was urgently needed.