Bid to sort out Lenasia housing crisis

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By ANNA COX

Johannesburg - Several key resolutions have been put forward by the specially formed Special Lenasia Intervention Team to sort out the housing crisis in the suburb.

The team was set up by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who told them to have proposals on his desk by Saturday.

He intervened last week after a series of protests by illegal residents complaining about the demolition of their homes, and later protests by those who are living legally in Lenasia Extension 13 and Lenasia South Extension 4.

The team is made up of representatives from the affected communities, officials from the provincial and national governments, the Human Rights Commission, the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit and the Public Protector.

According to Sulliman Barends, of the Concerned Lenasia Residents’ Association, representing those who have built illegally, an acceptable solution has been reached.

In summary:

* All land will be revalued, and those who have taken up too much land will have their stands reduced in size;

* Vacant land will be fenced off and cleared by the housing department;

* No demolitions will take place until further notice;

* The National Home Builders’ Regulatory Council will inspect all the houses to establish whether they were built legally and safely;

* Solutions will be found for those houses built illegally, and for people who were innocent when defrauded;

* Those who knew that they were buying land belonging to the government will have to come forward and disclose who they purchased the land from, and will be required to be witnesses in criminal trials;

* The bulldozers will go back to Lenasia this week to clear the rubble;

* Some land will be sold legally, but it will be limited to one piece of land per family;

* Those who own homes which they’re renting out will lose their illegally acquired properties; and,

* A team of people will be set up at the housing department in Sauer Street, where people must go and register and lodge their information.

Sexwale had warned that the solutions tabled had to be lawful and work on a case-by-case basis, as no one size fitted all.

He also said the state had an obligation to protect citizens who suddenly found themselves with “illegal neighbours” who were fraudulently connecting electricity and water, thereby reducing the values of their homes.

“I stress that because, in this whole debate, legal residents are forgotten, and the government stands for and with them,” Sexwale said.

The minister also called on people to come forward and work with the government in identifying and reporting criminal elements involved in the illegal sale of government land.

anna.cox@inl.co.za

The Star

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