Carol Paton Writer at Large

Now that the land question is at the forefront of political dialogue, are there more land grabs by shack and backyard dwellers than before? Will there be even more in future? If so, that will mean a great many land occupations. The City of Tshwane, for instance, says that in 2017 alone it dealt with more than 4,000 cases. Land invasions and occupations have been a phenomenon since 1994; it is how SA’s 300 informal settlements at the time of the transition have grown to more than 3,000. Human Settlements Minister Nomaindia Mfeketo thinks occupations will increase. She told a Sunday newspaper the political environment was having this effect, a view that is quite widely shared on an anecdotal level. It makes sense. With 60% of the population living in cities and towns, the question of the redistribution of land (in so far as it is about actual land and not a metaphor for wealth and access to the fruits of the economy) is more an urban question than a rural one. It is also the case that...

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