Tshwane has launched an investigation into what is behind the sudden wave of land grabs that has hit the metro days after the DA took over power there.
Allegations are rife that individuals linked to the ANC are provoking land grabs to sabotage the new administration.
Since the DA took over the running of the municipality after the August 3 local government elections, land has been invaded in Pretoria’s Fort West, Mamelodi East, Nellmapius, Ga-Rankuwa and Soshanguve.
An investigation by The Times revealed that in Nellmapius land is being “sold” for as little as R100 by, among others, the treasurer of the Nellmapius branch of the ANC Women’s League, Salome Tau.
Tau was contacted by The Times and told by this reporter that he was looking for land on which to build a shack.
Tau responded by saying that all that was needed for a piece of land near the N4 highway was R100 and a shack.
She said people must take over the land and return to it when the authorities evicted them.
“The plan is to join the other shacks that have been there for years … By the time they realise there are new shacks, the municipality will have a challenge evicting people. Take your shack and R100. We have people there who will show you where to erect your shack,” she said yesterday. When this reporter revealed his identity later and questioned her actions, Tau denied knowledge of the land invasion.
“I only went there to check what is happening and maybe people saw me there and thought I was part of it,” she said.
She denied telling The Times reporter to claim land and erect a shack, saying she was “misunderstood”.
Two independent sources have fingered at least nine ANC members – three serving in the ANC branch executive committee in Nellmapius – as masterminds behind the land grab near the N4 and in extension 1.
A source in the ANC, who asked for anonymity for fear of victimisation, said she was surprised to see familiar local senior ANC faces taking money from people for a piece of land when she tried to get land for her brother.
The 45-year-old resident said at least 290 people had each paid R100 and been allocated plots.
“What is happening is a political game at the expense of poor people. The intention is to cause trouble for the new administration,” she said.
The Times has seen a receipt for R100 issued to another prospective resident. The unsigned receipt shows that she was allocated plot No018.
“An ANC branch executive committee member I know very well was there when I paid the money. He said they were running the programme as concerned community members,” she said.
In November 2014 the ANC-run municipality obtained a court interdict prohibiting people from erecting shacks on the land, which has been earmarked for low-cost housing.
At the time the EFF had led an invasion of the area and renamed it Malemaville after party leader Julius Malema.
The metro’s MMC for human settlements, Mandla Nkomo, said it was no coincidence that the land grabs began immediately after the new administration was sworn in.
Nkomo said that although he had “no hard evidence”, the information he had was that the ANC was behind the land grabs.
“People are saying this. We are investigating and I am expecting a report from the MMC for community safety [Derek Kissundooth] soon,” he said.
Nkomo said only the municipality could allocate land and advised residents not to fall for the ploy.
This week residents blockaded roads and burned an Autopax bus in Mamelodi East after shacks illegally erected near the Eerste Fabrike railway station were demolished.
Nkomo said the only way to get land legally was to be on the housing list.
“We have land to give,” he said.
ANC secretary in the Tshwane region, Paul Mojapelo, said it was not ANC policy to invade land. He said land had been invaded when the ANC was in charge of the metro, adding that it was surprising that, now that it was happening to a DA administration, fingers were being pointed at the ANC.
“ANC members are community members before they are ANC members. It is not our policy. There are processes and policies in place,” he said.
In Johannesburg, Mayor Herman Mashaba said there had been several land invasions since he took office. He has asked the housing team to clean up the housing list and report to him with a credible list within 90 days.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said land had always been used as a political tool.
“People are moving from their rural settings. That creates a high level of demand for land,” he said.