Following the first major land invasions of 2020 in Tshwane’s Silverlakes and Boschkop areas, business organisation Sakeliga today issued a warning to business and the public to guard against increasingly shrewd land invasion tactics by the EFF.
Over the course of several days this week, small groups of land invaders claiming to be from the EFF attempted to seize land held by developers to the North East of Pretoria. Striking at several sites around Silverlakes and Boschkop in the Tshwane area, invaders sought to clear “stands” on the properties, even naming these future settlements “Winnie Mandela View” with apparently at least three extensions thereto. (See photo attached.)
EFF reveals new tactics
While swift legal action and co-operation with the police have so far been holding the invaders at bay, increasingly sophisticated invasion tactics are complicating legal action and eviction. We point to two factors to be considered by property owners guarding against land invasions.
First, it appears that the land invaders employ scouting procedures to identify unwatched land before they begin erecting permanent structures. In this case, invaders first made exploratory incursions onto several different sites in order to test the swiftness of response from owners and law-enforcement. Invaders would identify a property, start clearing plants and material, and begin to lay out sites for occupation. If owners or law-enforcement offices respond, they move to a different area, until they conclude that a lack of immediate response will afford them time to erect permanent structures.
Second, land invaders are mobile and able to operate from the stability of existing accommodation. In this case, invaders were able to avoid the heavy rains experienced in the area by leaving and returning to invaded property repeatedly over several days. It is also likely that they stock building material at these alternative sites, putting these to use only once they are satisfied with the lack of response from an owner or law-enforcement.
Alertness and swift action required
Piet le Roux, CEO of Sakeliga, warns that 2020 will require great vigilance to prevent land invasions: “As we head into 2020, it is increasingly important for developers, farmers and other land-owners to keep a close watch on their properties. Once invaders have erected permanent structures and settled on a piece of land it becomes tremendously complicated and costly to evict them.”
“We recommend that owners, especially those holding vacant land, take measures to frequently or even continually monitor land in areas where there is EFF activity. Equally important is that members of the public, whenever they see what appears to be illegal land occupation, alert the owners of such property. Guarding against land invasions is important not only for owners, but for communities spanning all racial groups and the country in general,” says Le Roux.
Land owners who wish to take proactive steps are encouraged to visit www.landgrab911.co.za, Sakeliga’s platform for assistance with land invasions. It offers step-by-step instructions on preventing land grabs, access to affordable legal assistance, and information held by the Chief Surveyor General such as a property’s dimensions and GPS-coordinates.
Constitutional Court application by Sakeliga
Next week, Sakeliga will apply to join as amicus curiae in the constitutional court case by the EFF against the Director of Public Prosecutions and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development. The case essentially revolves around the criminality or not of incitement to land invasions and the scope of the crime of trespassing.
The EFF seeks a declaration of unconstitutionality in respect of section 18(2) of the Riotous Assemblies Act, Act 17 of 1956 (“Riotous Assemblies Act”) and declaratory relief in respect of the Trespass Act, Act 6 of 1959 (“Trespass Act”) read together with the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, Act 19 of 1998 (“PIE Act”).
Sakeliga will support the relevant Director and Minister to argue that section 18(2) of the Riotous Assemblies Act is not only constitutional but in fact of great importance for the maintenance of law and order. Sakeliga will also argue against the EFF’s declaratory relief sought regarding the Trespass Act.
“We believe that Mr Julius Malema and the EFF seek licence to commit incitement to land invasions and make legal action against land invasions prohibitively complex and expensive. They wish to disguise what is, properly understood, criminal actions under the guise of political and free speech and freedom of movement. The attempt to cripple the application of the Trespass Act is clearly aimed at frustrating private property rights and bolstering land invasions.”
Sakeliga will file its arguments and application to the Chief Justice by 18 January 2020, with a view to be heard in the Constitutional Court on 18 February 2020.