/ 12 November 2012

Department: Demolition of Lenasia houses is legal

Over 100 illegally built homes are being demolished by police in Lenasia.
Over 100 illegally built homes are being demolished by police in Lenasia.

Over 100 houses illegally erected on land owned by the City of Johannesburg will continue to be demolished in Lenasia, the provincial local government and housing department said on Monday. 

"We were vindicated by the high court last week Friday when an urgent application by the residents and those occupying that land was dismissed, as the court agreed we were acting well within our rights by demolishing those houses," head of the department Mongezi Myani said.

The department would work with the police and Johannesburg metro police to ensure the demolitions went ahead with no disruptions. Officials tearing the houses down had not been intimidated, but safety was a priority.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said there were no signs of protest action on Monday. 

Last week the department destroyed about 50 houses. Another 113 houses were yet to be demolished. They had been illegally built on land intended for government houses.

The department said fraudsters had sold plots for between R2 500 and R95 000. Buyers were apparently issued with fraudulent deeds of sale which had the department's logo.

Illegal sales 'immaterial'
Various groups including the South African Human Rights Commission and Cosatu had criticised the demolitions.

Some home owners claimed they had been living on the properties for over 10 years. Lenasia residents barricaded roads and burnt tyres last week.

The Ecological Movement of South Africa expressed disappointment at the demolishing of the illegally-built houses.

"How can the Gauteng government claim to be sending a strong message by demolishing houses? Instead, they should be finding ways of ensuring that those who are already there pay services and other necessary fees," spokesperson Teboho Mashota said.

Mashota said the illegal sales were immaterial as families were acting within their constitutional rights.

"Ordinary working class families went out of their way to find means of making a reality of providing shelter to their loved ones, given our right as enshrined in our so-called progressive Constitution, the right to access to housing and the right to property," she said.

The movement champions human rights and climate change issues. It was formed by former members of the Anti-Privatisation Forum. – Sapa