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Lenasia: Demolition reprieve extended

Meggan Saville

The High Court in Johannesburg has extended an order halting the demolition of houses in Lenasia Extension 13.

Over 100 illegally built homes are being demolished by police in Lenasia. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The matter was postponed for the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to file answering affidavits by noon on Wednesday.

SAHRC chief executive Kayum Ahmed said outside court this meant that a court order preventing further demolition for 24 hours, granted on Monday, was extended at least until Wednesday.

Judge Brian Spilg asked for progress on a census, which was being conducted to determine how many people were affected by the demolitions.

He said the census was important to prevent other people moving onto the land and claiming the same rights as those who had been living there.

"Anyone who comes onto the land after that date cannot effectively seek refuge," Spilg said.

The Gauteng local government and housing department began destroying the houses last Thursday and Friday because the land they were built on was intended for government housing, and had been sold illegally.

Forged deeds
About 50 houses had been destroyed and another 113 were in line to be demolished.

The plots of land were apparently sold fraudulently for amounts ranging from R2 500 to R95 000. The buyers were given forged deeds of sale with the department's logo.

Last week, housing department spokesperson Motsamai Motlhaolwa said residents were told in 2006 not to build houses on the land.

Outside the High Court on Tuesday affected residents and their neighbours held a picket to draw attention to their difficulties.

One woman shouted: "Our children are writing exams, they are traumatised."

A racial matter
Others waved placards. "Where must we go? Why breaking houses?", one read.

Another questioned what the African National Congress felt about the department demolishing their homes.

Others considered the destruction of their houses a racial matter.

"No freedom for blacks," one man's placard read, while another had the words: "Why Indians own seven houses?"

On Monday Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane said the government had been sympathetic to the plight of the residents. This was because it only began destroying the houses last week, after being ordered to do so in September last year. – Sapa

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