Private Property Owners requested to monitor own land for invasions

Posted On Friday, 26 June 2015 10:53 Published by
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The City of Cape Town’s Anti Land Invasion Unit aims to curb and discourage land invasions by providing strategic and operational preventative and monitoring services within the bounderies of the City.

 

Neil_Gopal_SAPOA

As such, the City has highlighted the rising problem of land invasions of privately owned property to SAPOA with the aim of assisting property owners to ensure that privately owned land is not illegally occupied.

The unit operates in conjunction with law enforcement, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other organs to ensure that city and provincial land is not illegally occupied whereby the state loses its ability to develop the land for its intended use, however when the invasion threat is on private land, owners are alerted and the onus is on them to take action.

The City of Cape Town emphesised to SAPOA that private property owners have an obligation to constantly check that no illegal occupations take place on their land, to ensure that any attempt at a land invasion is immediately curbed.

Unlawful invasions of privately owned land must be reported to the courts without delay for an eviction order in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, 1998.

 The City of Cape Town reports an increasing trend of land invaders targeting private property over the last 3 years, and notes that often private property owners do not have the means to prevent land invasions.

 A point of reference of a sustained land invasion is “Siqalo” informal settlement which was the first “blueprint” of persistent land invasion that relies on exhausting private and government capacity to fight off invaders and demolish structures. Another informal settlement, “Marikana” repeated this model.

In light of these “successful” land invasions, the City has become more pro-active about private property and can now act on all land invasions in the public interest (to avoid a range of subsequent problems as experienced with Siqalo and Marikana).

 It is however, still the responsibility of private land owners to constantly monitor their own properties. The SAPS is the private property owner’s first point of call when faced with a land invasion problem. The SAPS has authority to respond to trespassing complaints by removing trespassers from property, enforcing the PIE Act (Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unauthorized Occupation of Land Act) by removing land invaders from property where they have erected structures without the consent of the property owner, arresting and charging offenders for transgressions and assisting the sheriff with eviction upon granting of the appropriate order.

Land owners can also request immediate assistance with preventing land invaders from building structures and demolishing unoccupied structures already built, protecting property, assets, contractors and staff, while preventing further invasion, vandalism and damage to property. In instances where the City becomes aware of potential invasions on private property, it will keep an eye on the property and alert owners of this information.

Where there is an attempted invasion, the City will have a visible presence in the area, inform owners and advise them to lay a trespassing charge, get an interdict (if owner is indigent, the City will get an interdict), get the interdict activated via the Sherriff of the Court and SAPS and get a Sherriff of the Court to post the interdict on site and serve it on invaders.

Then owners have to see to it that the SAPS assists Law Enforcement to remove pegs, dismentle structures and monitor land for re-invasion.

In order to fast track the process where the owner is not available to personally deal with the problem, it is imperative that owners have a contact person available to assist on their behalf, have a letter authorising proxy to act on behalf of owners and have a copy of the title deed at hand to prove ownership when approaching the SAPS.

Legal remedies available to owners include: 

  • Laying criminal charges of illegal trespassing
  • Applying for an interdict at the High Court to prevent further illegal invasions and/or illegal occupations
  • Applying to the court to evict illegal occupiers in terms of the PIE Act.

 To assist the City to fast-track the fight against land invasions, property owners are requested to register their properties with the City of Cape Town by contacting its call center with their erf numbers, the suburb name and the owner’s contact details or those of the person in charge of the property.

 The call center can be reached by dialing 107 from a landline or 080 022 5669 from a mobile phone. The call center is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is dedicated to owners with property within the boundaries of the City of Cape Town.

 

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