Sexwale offers plan for Lenasia demolition crisis

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale met with disgruntled protesters in Lenasia. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale met with disgruntled protesters in Lenasia. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has waded into the Lenasia demolitions debacle, demanding the matter be dealt with in 72 hours.

"This is going to take a multiplicity of solutions," Sexwale told the Mail & Guardian on Monday.

Sexwale visited suburbs around Lenasia where houses have been erected illegally on government owned land.

Last week, Judge Phineas Mojapelo granted an indefinite postponement to demolitions of  houses built on land meant for government housing, of which some were then demolished by the state. The land had been sold to residents by corrupt officials, who charged R2 500 and R95 000 for plots, and issued the buyers with fraudulent deeds of sale.

"How can this happen? I mean, you can steal office supplies and tablets from a hospital – but land? This is madness," Sexwale was heard saying during his tour.

He was joined by Gauteng housing minister Ntombi Mekgwe and Johannesburg member of the mayoral committee for housing Dan Bovu.

Sexwale said he would spearhead a plan that would see the local Lenasia community and all three spheres of government - local, provincial and national - work alongside the Special Investigating Unit and the Hawks to resolve the matter.

"We will all need to work together, but the important thing is that it must be done in 72 hours," he added.

The plan aims to find the perpetrators of the housing scams and identifying all government land in the area immediately. After touring the area, Sexwale also managed to placate angry resident in Lenasia.

While many had taken to the streets in protest after being affected by the demolitions, on Monday a group of residents took to the streets to lobby for the demolitions to continue.

With opposing groups brandishing signs reading, "Bring back the bulldozers!" and "Demolitions are a crime", Sexwale managed to bring the two sides to agreement.

"This house cannot be divided," he said.

"Together is the only way you will solve this problem. Work together to ensure this never happens here or anywhere else in the country again."

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