Two evictions on Sanral-owned land in Lwandle, Cape Town, took place this year, mayor Patricia de Lille said in trying to set out the “facts” on Tuesday.
She said the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) obtained an interdict in January to prevent land invasions and took down 415 illegal structures on February 3.
The land, near Strand, was re-invaded between February and April.
On June 2 and 3, about 200 illegally erected shacks on the same land were burnt and demolished by the Sheriff of the High Court, supported by the SA Police Service.
“In all of the above interactions, it must be stressed that city officials actively encouraged Sanral to act as a responsible land owner,” De Lille told reporters in Cape Town.
“Further, the city played no direct role in the eviction process itself.”
De Lille’s comments formed part of a written submission to an inquiry set up by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to probe the role of all parties involved.
According to the summary of the written submission, Sanral first approached the city seven years ago to ask for help in relocating around 1200 families living on the road reserve.
The city relocated around 450 families to another area and asked Sanral to protect its land in the future.
Sanral apparently approached the city again at a later stage to help relocate residents so they could begin construction of their toll road project.
De Lille said Sanral agreed to buy a piece of land next to their site and transfer it to the city for a certain category of housing, in exchange for accommodating the Lwandle residents in an alternative project.
She said Sanral had not yet followed through on this commitment.
Discussions had been suspended since the city had challenged its tolling project.
“However, it must be explicitly stated that this did not in any way preclude Sanral from acquiring land for the purpose of relocating the families occupying the road reserve.”
De Lille said only 73 of the evictees were legally on the city’s housing database of over 15,000 people for the Helderberg region.
Many people evicted from the land were originally backyarders in neighbouring formal areas.
It had been alleged that the Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement encouraged people to invade the land, “selling” plots to the evictees for up to R2500.
“The city of Cape Town is firmly of the view that in dealing with this matter going forward we need to pay due consideration to the rights of those people who are legally on the housing database and patiently waiting their turn.”
The Lwandle inquiry was tasked with establishing who the affected residents were and why they occupied the land while there was a waiting list for the provision of government housing.
De Lille said she had yet to receive a response from Sisulu on the powers she used to set up the inquiry and had thus, reserving all rights, decided not to provide oral testimony to the inquiry later on Tuesday. SAPA