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What can I do if illegal squatters are living on my land?

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Q

Hi, I am a property owner with a problem of an informal settlement of 36 dwellings on the land. I have engaged the dwellers who are voluntarily prepared to relocate provided the eThekwini Municipality provide them with proper housing. I have gotten advice regarding the PIE application and the correct procedure to follow in applying it. This is, however, not necessary given that the dwellers want to relocate.

The problem that confronts us is that this municipality is not enforcing successful PIE applications with eviction orders granted by the High Courts on the basis that it has a 400,000-strong waiting list and it is forced to provide housing based on priority.

What recourse do I have in this case if the municipality takes this position? It will not engage with me to constructively resolve the problem via fair compensation for the property or a swap for alternative municipal land or rental for the occupants on my property.

I have taken up my matter to the Mayor/MEC/Premier’s office without acknowledgement of the problem.

Do you have any advice for me? – Donovan

A

Hi Donovan,

In order to best assist you, we asked attorney Cilna Steyn, director of SSLR Inc, as well as Michelle Dickens, MD of credit bureau TPN for their input – ed

Cilna Steyn from SSLR Inc

Cilna Steyn, MD at SSLR Inc.

We would be reluctant to agree to illegal occupants moving to municipal land without a court order. It can happen that some occupants do not actually move as they are not 100% satisfied with the specific land provided which means that the owner is left in no better position.

It is also very unlikely that a municipality would agree to giving land to some of the people without a court order as they have a waiting list. In a case where the municipality does not have land available, a court can make an order compelling the municipality to make land available.

Approaching a court for relief is the only option the owner would have in this instance.

Michelle Dickens, TPN

Michelle Dickens, MD of TPN.It is important to realise that this is not a negotiation and that there is law that governs this process. You can potentially delay the inevitable but in the end you are going to end up in court. The best advice we can give is to approach the court as soon as possible.


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david.steynberg@gmail.com

David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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