Gauteng closes net on Lenasia land sale syndicates

Johannesburg: The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government and Housing in Gauteng, Errol Magerman, says law enforcement agencies must leave no stone unturned in efforts to secure more arrests of individuals involved in the syndicates behind the illegal sale of land in Lenasia.

Speaking during a media briefing on Wednesday, Magerman said it was unfortunate unsuspecting residents were duped by unscrupulous agents, and were now suffering as a result.

“The syndicates operating in the area through this illegal sale of land are the ones who are benefitting, while our people who have been conned are suffering. Now we are calling upon the law enforcement agencies to investigate and arrest all members of these syndicates — the law must take its course,” he said.

Last week Thursday, the Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing started the process of demolishing houses that had been illegally built on the invaded land in the Lenasia South area. So far, the department has demolished a total of 51 houses.

Magerman and other members of the portfolio committee visited the families of all those affected by the demolition in Lenasia Extension 13, south of Johannesburg, to assess the situation on Wednesday.

“As the portfolio committee, we decided to do an unannounced oversight visit and to listen to the views of the residents. We are a proactive legislature, we need to get a way forward on this,” he said.

He said the provincial Department of Local Government and Housing would present a report on the matter to the committee on Friday.

The multi-party committee is expected to make recommendations to the provincial Department of Local Government and Housing on how the matter can be better resolved.

In February 2007, several developers were implicated in the illegal sale of land. The implicated included Richard Zikhali and his wife Hlengiwe Ximba, as well as Michael Madogola.

Ximba has since entered into a plea bargain with the State and was sentenced to six years imprisonment, with a three-year suspended sentence. Zikhali and Madogola will be going on trial during the first week of December.

Hilda Sikhute is out on bail and is attending trial; while Muziwamandla Poto, also known as Radebe by locals, and Elizabeth Masinya are out on bail.

“I think our people must ensure that they get in touch with the department or any other government institution to get advice on how to obtain land or houses because there are too many wolves in sheep’s skin; our people must be very careful about this illegal land sale scam,” said Magerman.

The department said all 113 structures earmarked for demolition were currently not occupied by any household or family.

Last week Friday, the illegal occupants approached the South Gauteng High Court for an urgent court interdict to stop the department from continuing with the demolition process.

On Tuesday, the court extended an order halting the demolition of houses in Lenasia Extension 13. The case was postponed for the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to file answering affidavits by noon today. –

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