Soldier among five arrested for illegal Joburg land invasion
A soldier was among a group of people arrested trying to illegally invade land in Lawley, south of Johannesburg, on Monday, said mayor Geoff Makhubo.
Makhubo visited the area on Monday following reports that several families were left destitute after their illegally erected structures were destroyed by Red Ants last week.
“While we were on site, we witnessed several persons actively engaged in invading land. Shockingly, among five persons arrested today is a member of the South African National Defence Force in active service at the 21 Battalion,” said Makhubo in a statement.
He moved to clarify that while the Red Ants had been deployed to destroy structures there last week, all those structures were either unoccupied or incomplete. The department of social development had been tasked with tracing the relevant families.
Makhubo said despite media reports of stranded families, his office had been battling to find a family that had been negatively affected by the demolitions.
“From information gathered, no verifiable case of eviction or demolition of an occupied structure has been confirmed. Several attempts have been made to reach some of the residents who specifically made these claims in the media to verify their claims - without success,” he said.
“Should the claims be proved, those responsible for the action will be called to account.”
Makhubo met the remaining residents of the informal settlement on Monday and assured them that their homes would remain untouched for now.
“The city has raised the substantial rise in land invasions with the province and national governments and awaits direction on how to contain this trend during the lockdown,” he said.
He stressed, however, that more people could be arrested for the land invasions.
“We are following leads that could result in the arrest of more persons involved in this illegal, manipulative and inhumane abuse of the suffering of the poor for material and financial gain.”