Several hundred people have apparently been told by the local branch of the Economic Freedom Fighters, EFF, that if they stake their claim to land in a vacant plot between the R104 and the N4 Highway the land would become theirs.
EWN reported that the crowd of people was gathered with corrugated iron, wood and various other building materials ready to stake their claim and set up shacks on the land.
Stephen Grootes spoke to EFF National Spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi who explained the situation saying the EFF believes in being part of the solution to the basic problem of human settlement in South Africa.
This is about the struggle of homeless people who everyday are held at ransom by the authorities who are unable to give them settlement, particularly dignified settlement, with proper land spaces. This is the struggle of people who are homeless and the Economic Freedom Fighters is fully behind them.— EFF National Spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi
When asked about the party’s role in encouraging people to break the law Mbuyiseni clarified that the issue was that the laws are delaying justice for people and thus this incident is not the breaking of the law but about the struggle of the people.
Photo: Tshwane Metro Police patrol Nellmapius, east of Pretoria. Barry Bateman/EWN
Xolani Gwala later spoke to Professor at the University of the Western Cape, Professor Ben Cousins who agreed with Ndlovu’s admission that this issue cannot be ignored or dismissed as an isolated event making reference also to the “Abahlali Basemjondolo” movement in Durban.
Cousins said that this is a problem that spans across the country, with the state being unable to provide appropriate sites for people to settle in and the state repeatedly failing to address the growing issue of urban expansion.
This has been going on for a long time now, often just out of sight of the media and what an incident like this reveals is that because it’s the EFF it’s getting lots of airtime suddenly the veil is being withdrawn from a very large scale phenomenon.— University of the Western Cape, Professor Ben Cousins
Cousins advised that this week’s events have been an urgent wake-up call for the state to begin planning for urban local planning: