AFRICANGLOBE – The Economic Freedom Fighters’ premier candidate in Limpopo, Michael Mathebe, has admitted that his party is behind the occupation of council-owned land on the outskirts of Polokwane. Thousands have flocked to at least three batches of land along Matlala Road close to Seshego where they marked stands for themselves on land owned by the Polokwane municipality.
Mathebe said they had encouraged people to occupy any open state-owned land.
“Informal settlements have cropped up all over the place after (Nelson) Mandela came out of prison because he told people to occupy open, vacant, state-owned land and we’re merely doing the same thing. People call us to meetings and tell us they’re landless. We’ll then go and double-check vacant land and verify if it is state-owned, then encourage them to occupy it,” he said.
“The EFF is talking about expropriation of land but people must start occupying any vacant state-owned land in the meantime. People out there use different terms like land grab and illegal occupation, but for us it is the occupation of open state land.
“It is nothing new because people have been occupying vacant land all over the country. Whites have occupied land without acknowledgement of government, but because it is black people who are doing it, it becomes illegal.”
Mathebe said the EFF was ready to defend land invaders in court if they were evicted.
The Polokwane municipality has, however, already obtained an interdict against the land occupiers and their leaders.
Municipal spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene said thousands of people have been marking stands for themselves on council land since last weekend.
“Over a week ago on Monday we went to the sites and removed erected structures and had a meeting with the leaders of those who were occupying land. They told us people were illegally occupying land because they have been on the RDP houses’ waiting list for a long time,” Chuene said.
“It was then decided that they should submit names of those who have been on the waiting list so that we can engage the housing department and ask them to increase allocations for Polokwane. Furthermore, a concrete agreement was made that land invasions will stop.”
Chuene said they have, however, received reports that more land was illegally occupied this weekend along Dendron Road outside Polokwane. She said this had yet to be confirmed.