The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s bid yesterday to appeal for the eviction of illegal squatters from the Haakdoornlaagte area, north of Pretoria, was over before it had even begun.
It has been confirmed that the state’s legal team failed to put the case on the court roll. The application for eviction was meant to be heard before the North Gauteng High Court.
The Wallmansthal Communal Property Association (WCPA), acknowledged as the rightful land beneficiaries at Haakdoornlaagte, has been fighting an uphill battle against the selling of their compensatory land by unscrupulous characters.
One such person is the third respondent in the case, former police captain Richard Makhene, who with the second respondent, Asof Maloka, is named in court papers for their alleged unlawful selling of state land.
The WCPA’s secretary, Simon Makola, had harsh words for the department, telling The New Age: “The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform did nothing for more than a year while Makhene was selling land at Haakdoornlaagte. It is yet to be seen whether the department’s application to evict the squatters is serious.”
Lobby group AfriForum stepped forward to offer legal assistance to the WCPA, not only in their battle to secure their properties at Haakdoornlaagte, but also in the successful eviction of squatters from Wallmansthal itself.
AfriForum’s head of community affairs, Cornelius Jansen van Rensburg explained that the case not being heard yesterday meant the WCPA would have to wait for months for justice to prevail and for their land rights to be upheld. “The incompetent way in which the WCPA’s interests are being handled by the department leaves a big question mark behind the government’s agenda as far as land restitution is concerned.”
Last week, The New Age reported on the assault of Makhene by squatters who found out he was allegedly selling the same piece of land to more than one person.
When pressed for comment regarding allegations made by the WCPA that the department was aware Makhene had been selling land at Haakdoornlaagte for some time, the department’s acting chief director for legal services and action chief director of corporate services, Tshepo Mahlaela, said: “This matter has been reported to the relevant authorities and an investigation is under way. Further details cannot be disclosed at this stage because it might jeopardise the investigation.”