MALEMA’S NEIGHBOURS OCCUPY LAND
Neighbours of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema have responded to his contentious public utterances encouraging land grabs by occupying open land in Seshego outside Polokwane in Limpopo.
Ward 13, which covers the land in question, is led by an EFF councillor whose party is the only one in the province pledging its support for the new squatters – who a few weeks ago have moved on to the empty land.
Those occupying the land are reiterating Malema’s utterances in which he encouraged people to occupy land as part of his party’s call for land to be returned to historically disadvantaged people.
Addressing his supporters two weeks ago after his court appearance in Bloemfontein on charges related to the Riotous Assemblies Act, Malema encouraged landless people to occupy empty land on the grounds that “the Freedom Charter said you must occupy the land wherever you choose”.
“I will never kill white people. We are asking politely that they return our land ... If not, I cannot guarantee peace,” he said.
Limpopo EFF secretary Jossey Buthane has said: “The land is not for decoration. If it is not used, it must be occupied.
“We support these people 100% for occupying this unused land and we’re ready to fight side by side, together with these people, against any element that may seek to disturb their programme of occupying the land,” Malema said.
More shacks are mushrooming daily on the edges of Seshego Zone 1 Extension, all the way up to Matlala Road. Most of those asked by City Press if they knew who owned the land said it was owned “by some white man”. Others admitted that they were emboldened by Malema’s statements to occupy land.
“Call it whatever you want, but for me this is not land-grabbing or illegal occupation of land. Rather put to use a piece of land that has remained unused for decades,” said an unemployed Themba Molongoana. “We have lived crammed in small houses. I could not wait for an RDP house any longer, while the Johnny-come-latelies got houses before us,” Molongoana added. He sat outside his shack in the blazing heat, under the awning provided by a small, protruding part of a corrugated iron sheet from his haphazardly assembled roof. One of the first to occupy the piece of land, he was taking a break after he had swept his small yard, already cleared of the weeds.
“This is my home now,” Molongoana said. “I am hoping to build a proper house for my family right here, one day when I have a job,” he told City Press.
“We have received a letter from the municipality asking us to leave, but we won’t. We were evicted from land not far from here by the municipality before, but not this time around. All we need from the government now are basic services because they have failed to provide housing.”
Polokwane municipality spokesperson Matshediso Mothapo confirmed the land was privately owned. He said the municipality always acted whenever a peace of land was invaded but “following a call by the EFF to grab land, the situation has changed”.
“What illegal invaders should note is that the municipality has not planned and budgeted for any service provision on the land they occupy illegally,” Mothapo said.
He said Polokwane had about 65 000 people in its database who wanted housing.
“Currently, there are three township establishment processes that the municipality has initiated to deal with settlement issues in Seshego. According to a survey conducted, the three projects can yield between 3 000 and 4 000 sites,” Mothapo said.
GO OCCUPY Jossey Buthane