Christmas in Rashoop for illegal squatters

The approximately 20 families who illegally occupied a piece of state-owned property in Rashoop at the end of October will be spending Christmas there after the application for an eviction order by the Local Municipality of Madibeng was postponed to 29 January 2010 in the North Gauteng High Court last week. The court ordered that no further structures are allowed to be erected on the site in the meantime.
Four hundred families were evicted from Block H in Lethlabile and approximately a week later some of these families star-ted erecting shacks on the property in Rashoop, which is currently on a long term lease to the Brits Flying Club and owned by the Department of Public works.

Residents of Rashoop expressed serious concerns when this started and the Local Municipality of Madibeng, after investigating the illegal squatting immediately brought an application for a court order to re-move the families. The municipality indicated that the property is not suitable for human habitation because there is no water or sanitation infra-structure, the danger presented by the fact that the property was previously used as a military camp and is directly opposite the Rashoop Shooting Range.
According to information the illegal squatting on the property is due to the alleged interfrence of a Member of Parliament (MP) who was present on the day of the evictions in Lethla-bile. The municipality has previous-ly said that they had indicated to the MP that the property was not suitable for occupation but that he apparently insisted.
Mr. Patrick Morathi, spokesperson for the Local Municipality of Madibeng, said that it was only when the municipality heard about the land grab in Rashoop that allegations surfaced that some of the families were among those evicted from Block H in Lethlabile. He reiterated that the settlement was ille-gal and that no agreement existed between the municipality and the Department of Public Works regarding this property. There were, however, discussions about a property in Kameeldrift.
The municipality has indicated previously that it does not have the budget or the property to relocate the families and supply them with basic water and sanitation infrastructure.
Despite the fact that application for the eviction order was immediately started after the land invasion at the end of October uncertainty for both the residents of Rashoop as well as the illegal squatters continue.
The municipality provisionally added the Central Govern-ment of the Republic of South Africa, the Minister of Human Settlements, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Affairs and the Minister of Public Works to the application and they had the opportunity last Tuesday to respond to this. They also had to indicate why the court should not order them to formulate a program aimed at accommodating the present 20 illegal occupiers and their families on the remaining portion of the farm Hartbeespoort 419JQ or any other state owned land in the jurisdiction of the municipality with the necessary means in order to provide municipal services on such land.
The judge postponed the application on Tuesday to 29 January to give the three government departments time to secure affidavits regarding the issue which they have to hand in to the judge at the next court date. The judge continued the court order forbidding the erection of any further structures on the property until that date.