Occupiers of Rose Acres negotiate with landowners

By Max Rambau, CORC

At a meeting between various stakeholders involved in the land struggle around Rose Acres on March 15, the landowners  indicated that they sympathized with the occupiers. They also indicated that they had written a letter to the Ekurhuleni Municipality, the Minister of Human Settlement requesting to discuss the matter but they had not received any response.

They informed the meeting that failure by government to respond to their letter had forced them to take action of applying to the High Court for the eviction of the occupiers. They had informed government of their intention and had also sent a copy of the High Court application. They said that the Municipality had kept on saying that they had lost the document.

The landowners informed the meeting that they wanted government to either buy or lease the occupied land because they believed that the people deserved to be housed and that it was the constitutional duty of the municipality to provide housing but the municipality is not communicating with them. They were willing to suspend effecting the court order if government would come to the table.

They said that they were losing a lot of money on the land that they were not using and they wanted to rehabilitate it in order to build some light industries as the land is dolomitic. They said that they could not do it while the people were occupying it.

It was clear that the landowners had called this meeting to build and strengthen their case so that they can go back to court and say that they had consulted with the occupiers and were justified to evict people.

Also, we believe that it was the wish of the landowners that the municipality would not respond and this would work in their favour. They wanted the Ekurhuleni Municipality to agree to evictions and commit itself to moving them elsewhere.

The occupiers indicated to the landowners that when they bought the land in 2007 they found people occupying it. It was pointed out to them that the land also includes the cemetery.

Another issue raised by the occupiers is that there are about four landowners in Makause and that they must indicate how much land they own.

The landowners said that they had already had a layout of the area.

The occupiers challenged the landowners to show them the letter that they claim had been sent to the Ekurhuleni Municipality because the latter claims that they had not received any letter. The landowners produced an unsigned copy of the said letter.

The occupiers informed the landowners that they could arrange a meeting between them (landowners) and the municipality because they (occupiers) had a good relationship with Ekurhuleni Municipality.

The landowners then requested to have the name and contact details of the person they could liaise with from the community and it was agreed that this would be communicated at a later stage.

After the meeting we requested SERI to assist us in finding a lawyer to represent us on this matter.