Gauteng court blocks occupation of cheese company’s land

Councillor backs company against occupiers

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Photo of people outside a court
About 60 residents of EbuMnandini, an informal settlement in the west of Johannesburg, were at the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday to hear the outcome of an attempt to block their recent land occupation. Photo: Zoe Postman

An interim interdict has been granted to Cremona Cheese Factory to prevent residents of EbuMandini, an informal settlement in Tshepisong in the west of Johannesburg, from occupying vacant land near the factory. The eviction order is valid until Friday.

The owner of the land, Antonio Cremona, filed for an eviction in April and the matter was heard in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday afternoon.

In his affidavit, Cremona said an informal settlement on the plot would “irreparably damage the property and land, devaluing it in the hands of the applicant [Cremona Cheese Factory]”.

Attempts to occupy the land started in April. Phumlani Khulu, one of the leaders of the occupation, said the plot had been standing empty for many years. He said he had tried to get title deeds from the management of the factory and from the Department of Human Settlements but without success.

Khulu said he had seen the title deeds in court for the first time.

Khulu said the plot was ridden with crime because there was no fence or any form of security. “People walk through there and they are being murdered and raped on that property because it is not secured,” said Khulu.

He said having the occupiers on the land would make it safer because the community would start their own policing and make sure the people were protected.

He said the occupiers needed the land because they had nowhere else to live. They could not afford to pay rent elsewhere.

Khulu said the ward councillor Sylvia Monakale was “siding with the factory” and not representing the needs of the community.

Monakale told GroundUp that she was “totally against any land occupations happening in the area”. She said she had met the leaders of the occupation and they had asked her to sign a document in support of the occupation.

“I told them I couldn’t sign it because I do not allocate land to people. We can’t just grab the land, we must go through the relevant departments and apply for housing so I condemn what is happening now”, Monakale told GroundUp.

She said she met factory management two weeks before the occupations to find out about their development plans.

“The company is good for development in our area. They said they want to build a shopping centre on that plot, which will only help the community”, said Monakale.

The matter will be heard again on Friday morning after the occupiers have had time to study the title deeds.

TOPICS:  Housing Land

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