Residents of Lawley south of Johannesburg protest on Wednesday against land-grabs in the area, vowing to place the community on lockdown. Picture: ALON SKUY
Residents of Lawley south of Johannesburg protest on Wednesday against land-grabs in the area, vowing to place the community on lockdown. Picture: ALON SKUY

"We cannot be surrounded by shacks when we pay high rates for our bonded houses‚" says Veronica Motaung‚ who, on Wednesday, joined a demonstration by home-owners against land-grabbers.

More than 100 residents barricaded a road in Lawley near Ennerdale, Gauteng with burning tyres from early morning‚ calling on the government to halt the illegal erection of shacks on an open field.

Motaung said the government had promised to develop the open land for the construction of a mall‚ community hall and petrol station. "I understand the need for housing but we can’t afford the constant load-shedding and crime brought by the erection of the shacks‚" she said.

In contrast‚ a furious shack dweller‚ Jessie Jacobs‚ told TimesLIVE: "We just want a piece of land. The government has failed us‚ we no longer want anything from them — just a piece of land." She said she wanted her own home‚ as she has had to live at her mother’s house all her life.

A community leader representing the shack dwellers‚ James Golden‚ said he did not understand why residents were up in arms because Ennerdale had been a squatter camp for years. "In one house you would find that there is about three or four generations. The last housing development that took place was during the apartheid years. That’s why‚ as leadership‚ we came to the conclusion that we’ll just take the land here."

Last month‚ the Gauteng department of human settlements welcomed a South Gauteng court decision to grant an interdict against the invasion and erection of informal structures in Ennerdale extension 9. The department said that the land affected by the land grab "is earmarked for development of houses for beneficiaries in the south of Johannesburg Metro".

"We believe the timely decision of the court has averted a possible conflict between the beneficiary community and those who wanted to forcefully occupy the land‚" MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs and human settlements Dikgang Uhuru Moiloa said in a statement on the ruling.

However‚ the shack dwellers say they will not move out. Community leader Farouk Jardine slammed the provincial government for lodging a complaint against them. "They have spent more than R500‚000 in legal fees‚ taking us to court. They have money to waste but not to help people‚" he said on Wednesday. "We don’t want to fight‚ we just want peace."

Police are on the scene to ensure law and order. Earlier on Wednesday‚ police spokesperson Constable Nhlali told TimesLIVE: "We understand the protest is in relation to land invasions that have been taking place in the area. The roads are still barricaded. We are closely monitoring the situation."

Residents of Ennerdale engaged in land grabs on Wednesday August 8 2018, in a move that they said had been long coming because the community was fed up with empty promises. Subscribe to TimesLIVE here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TimesLive

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