MORE THAN R355-MILLION SPENT ON PREVENTING ILLEGAL LAND INVASIONS
2 March 2021
It is incomprehensible that during the current financial year, the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, has already spent more than R 355 million to prevent illegal land invasions and the illegal occupation of completed units. Between July 2020 and 28 February 2021, there were 1 014 attempts of illegal land invasions across the province, with the majority being in the Cape Metro.
This means, with the exclusion of the bulk services, approximately 2 150 Breaking New Ground (BNG)/free housing units could’ve been built.
It is deeply concerning that those encouraging these illegal land invasions are blatantly disregarding the impact this has on the most vulnerable, which they claim to represent. Knowing that it takes in excess of 1 500 days for a brand-new human settlements project to be completed to the point of handover to beneficiaries, we have put a plan in place to avoid all unnecessary delays on our side.
This process includes working smartly to obtain all the relevant and required statutory approvals, which amongst others consist of town planning, environmental impact studies, land surveying, engineering services and indeed the process of building the units.
We’re constantly seeing how projects are delayed due to these invasions. In fact, the delivery of housing opportunities can be delayed by 3 months to 5 years, and in rare instances even longer. Having the elderly, individuals living with medically certified disabilities, those who’ve been on the Housing Demand Database (HDD) for 15 years and longer and backyard dwellers, wait even longer due to these illegal invasions is unacceptable and uncalled for.
To further ensure that no land that is earmarked for human settlement development is lost, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was developed by the provincial department to assist municipalities across the province which might be experiencing illegal invasions. This SOP, which is still to be finalised with the municipalities, seeks to ensure that there is a coordinated approach between the provincial department and municipalities to rapidly respond to illegal land invasion attempts to either prevent the invasion or remove the illegal occupiers lawfully.
It is also critical that we receive assistance from our citizenry to avoid these illegal invasions. The more the various stakeholders, including the different spheres of government and especially our national law enforcement agencies, work together, the more we can ensure that these illegal invasions are prevented – and where they might’ve occurred, the illegal invaders can swiftly be removed in accordance with the law.
We can only start addressing the housing backlog, which is currently at almost 600 000 in the Western Cape, if we all work together to end this criminal behaviour.
Those with a genuine housing need must ensure that they are registered on the housing demand database and if they are, to verify and update their details. In addition to this, they should also engage the relevant structures such as Project Steering Committees (PSC’s) and Ward Councillors to receive factual information, and not allow devious community leaders to mislead them.
This will only lead to disappointment at the hands of dubious individuals who do not have their best interests at heart. These individuals seek to disrupt and break our communities down by offering false promises and inaccurate information. Government has no such vested interest – we are there to uplift and serve you.
As the Western Cape Government, we remain committed to accelerating human settlement delivery, while promoting social inclusion through the development of integrated, resilient, safe and sustainable human settlements in an open opportunity society.