Cyril's word seen as land grab go-ahead

01 April 2018 - 00:00 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE

The debate on land restitution could have sparked land grabs across the country, according to Human Settlements Minister Nomaindia Mfeketo.
She visited Hermanus on Wednesday after a violent land protest, and promised Overstrand mayor Dudley Coetzee and backyard dwellers in Zwelihle that she would help find a solution to the problem.
She could not rule out the possibility that President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement about expropriation without compensation had been misconstrued by communities.
"Well, that might be," said Mfeketo. "Not only in Cape Town, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Waterfall - you've seen people who think they have arrived. 'This is our opportunity to land-grab.'"That is why, at the higher level ... there are meetings of different stakeholders that are deliberating on this very, very important chapter in our country."
Coetzee said Ramaphosa's talk about expropriation had sent an "incorrect message".
He added: "Although he has followed it up and said 'We are not going to accept land grabs', many communities see that as a go-ahead - they can now go and take the land, the land is for free. The protesters told us: 'We have taken our land. Don't worry about building us houses, we will build our own. Just give us water.'"
Coetzee said the extent of the damage had yet to be quantified, but the "housing offices in Zwelihle, library, a satellite police station were burnt, a house that was occupied by one of our housing officials was set on fire, and so was our refuse transfer site where a number of people work."
He said backyard dwellers' frustration emanated from absentee landlords - some of whom lived in the Eastern Cape - who did not pay municipal accounts.
Coetzee said a committee of community members, municipal officials and the provincial government had been formed and land had been identified to solve the housing problem.
Community leader Gcobani Ndzongana denied that the land grab was a result of Ramaphosa's announcement.
"They [the municipality] have got records in their archives of our memoranda dating back to 2010," he said.
"We said it is time to take action."

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