The Western Cape Government yesterday filed an intervening affidavit in the Western Cape High Court, requesting that it be allowed to participate in part B of the South African Human Rights Commission and the Economic Freedom Fighters’ litigation against the City of Cape Town in respect of the rights of landowners where illegal land invasions occur.
The Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements, Tertuis Simmers, who has been mandated by the provincial cabinet to sign the affidavit on behalf of the WCG said: “The Western Cape Government is the custodian of public land that is, and will be, used for human settlements, education, health and social services, as well as conservation both currently and for future generations.”
Our ability to take immediate proactive steps to protect our land so as to ensure it gets used for a planned public purpose is important, especially for our most vulnerable communities who are reliant on public services from our government.
We are therefore making the court aware of our views and the consequences which follow when the large-scale invasion of land is not addressed timeously.”
The WCG is fully cognisant of the constitutional and statutory protections against unlawful eviction from a home and is committed to respecting those protections.
It is however of utmost importance that the WCG is able to protect and maintain the property that it holds as the custodian of public and state-owned land in the Western Cape. This property is held for and used for delivery on a range of socio-economic obligations of the WCG and the provision of important public services and other public purposes, both now and in the future.
Minister Simmer continued: “In the past 15 months, the Department of Human Settlements has spent over R180 million to prevent illegal land grabs and site invasions- with about R50 million spent in the last three months alone. This money could have funded over 1400 housing opportunities.
We’re requesting that the court grant us the opportunity to intervene on this basis and to make submissions to the court as to the application of the existing law and the ambit of any guidelines under consideration in this regard.”