Illegal land occupiers who have been occupying parts of Knoppieslaagte, Timsrand and Mnandi outside Centurion for months have in the past two days simply started packing their bags to leave the area.
The sheriff, residents of the area and a contracted service provider responsible for security applied an eviction order on Wednesday to get rid of the approximately 6,000 temporary homes. The South African Police Service (SAPS) and the metro police supervised the process in a support role.
Ao. Johan van Dyk, police spokesperson, says the order was already implemented on Wednesday morning and is expected to be later this afternoon [Donderdag] be completed.
“Here and there there were cases where the occupiers burned tires, blocked the roads and threw stones at the law enforcement authorities, but the situation was quickly neutralized,” he says.
“As soon as the occupiers wanted to cause trouble, it was dealt with with minimal violence.”
Residents in the area have already been warned in advance about streets that will possibly be affected by the eviction.
Although the police have nothing to do with the eviction order, and are simply only present to maintain law and order, there is nevertheless a strong police presence.
“It’s almost like a show of force and there haven’t been any serious cases where the lives of the occupiers or the residents have been put in danger,” says Van Dyk.
“On the contrary, due to the strong presence of law enforcement authorities, some of the illegal occupiers themselves began to demolish their temporary dwellings.”
The illegal land occupiers initially did not want to know anything about the eviction order and in February ran amok by burning a school and houses and blocking roads. Residents of the smallholdings even had to leave their homes vacate due to violent protests by the land occupiers in the area.
About 100 illegal land occupiers found themselves on an undeveloped piece of land in Mnandi in August last year home made. The temporary dwellings on the plot of land – of about 180 hectares – have grown to about 6,000 over time.
The land is privately owned and the owners turned to the court. In November, a verdict was delivered that these occupiers do not have squatter rights to occupy the land and that they must be removed.
Several attempts have since been made to enforce the order, but the latest attempt appears to be the most successful.
Van Dyk says that once all the occupiers have been removed, the police will remain in the area to monitor the situation.
“There will still be feet on the ground tonight and one or two police vehicles will be in the area for the next few days. After that, the police will withdraw completely.”
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