Land invasions end in conflict between black classes
THE most incredible thing happened this week: different classes of black people went toe-to-toe in two Gauteng suburbs and in North West over land occupation.
The fight mirrored the social divide being sown by some opportunistic politicians, who continue to abuse the desperate situation of far too many of our compatriots.
A group of people carrying their “homes” arrived in trucks in the upmarket (by Soweto standards) Protea Glen to erect shacks on open land owned by the municipality.
Many residents came out of their bonded houses and blocked them. Fights ensued. Blood flowed in the neat tarred streets.
The police got involved on the side of the Protea Glen residents and drove away the invaders.
In Vosloorus, residents took to the streets to protest against illegal land invasions by shack dwellers who had erected structures in their suburb. On the same day, northeast of Rustenburg in North West, a community that has been living in shacks since 2013 barricaded roads near Ledig, demanding houses and land.
They claim the Royal Bafokeng Nation demolished their houses five years ago, as it claimed they had built on its land illegally.
There have been many such invasions over the past three years, mainly by people who are victims of poverty and subjected to unaffordable rentals in backyard shacks.
In all instances, the targeted land has always been near areas that offer job opportunities.
Then Julius Malema and his EFF caught on, recognising the desperation of the shack dwellers and a clear opportunity to win easy votes.
The party encouraged these poor and gullible people to forcefully occupy any piece of land they could find. This was a direct incitement to commit crime.
In many cases the targeted land was owned by municipalities or private investors. Until recently, most land-grab victims have been whites or companies with a white face.
That was always going to change. The numerical strength of the black population mean blacks today own more land than white households.
And of course many pay up to a third of their monthly salaries to live on that land.
So they are not going to just sit back and watch their investments being trampled upon – even by fellow black people. Political opportunism Phelelani Sindani is one of the Protea Glen residents who came out in defence of her suburb.
“When they come they are going to want electricity and they are going to put up cables and steal it from us.
“They think we who live in houses are rich, so we will have a lot of break-ins,” she told News24.
In Vosloorus, Gauteng police spokeswoman Kay Makhubela told the SABC: “Yes, indeed, I can confirm that the community of Vosloorus barricaded the road, protesting about land invasion in the area.
The people who are protesting are the owners of the houses in the area, who are saying they don’t want their houses to be surrounded by shacks.”
The platinum-rich Royal Bafokeng Nation is also creating a middle-class community for its more than 300 000 members.
It ploughs every cent into infrastructure for their benefit, but allows the many non-Bafokeng who live on its native platinum belt access to the schools and clinics it pays for.
The political opportunists who say land is a black and white matter have another thing coming.
They will have to choose between the rule of law and chaos, with the accompanying violence they have fomented over land.
Only this time it black-on-black violence, class vs poor.
ý Sikonathi Mantshantsha is the deputy editor of the Financial Mail. This article first appeared in the Financial Mail. will be middle