Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba seeks ‘joint approach’ to resolve conflict in Lenasia

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Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has weighed in on the recent spate of public violence in Lenasia, saying that he is seeking a “joint approach” to resolve “complex problems” in the area. 

On Friday, News24 reported that fed-up residents blocked roads leading into parts of Ennerdale, Zakarriyya Park and Lenasia South in Johannesburg as they protested against the occupation of land in the area.

Traffic was diverted and many people were prevented from going to work. 

On Saturday, police resorted to firing rubber bullets to disperse alleged land occupiers in Lenasia, while other residents marched on Saturday calling for an end to land occupation in the area.

“I have taken note of the recent protests in Lenasia and surrounding areas during the course of last week, as well as the events that led to them. I have written to Lebogang Maile, MEC for Human Settlements and Cogta (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs), to achieve a joint approach to addressing the complex problems in the area,” Mashaba said in a statement on Monday.

Complex challenges

“At the heart of this issue are two competing and highly complex challenges which face government at all levels,” Mashaba said.

“On the one hand, it is the crisis of landlessness in Johannesburg, created through an unimaginative approach to housing delivery and land ownership, which has resulted in informal settlements mushrooming across the province. On the other hand, the need to ensure orderly law enforcement of settlements to redress spatial inequality in a manner which brings people closer to potential work opportunities.

“Both of these challenges require the direct attention of our two spheres of government. In my letter, I stressed to MEC Maile the need to ensure that we plan and coordinate together, between the City and the Gauteng provincial government, to avoid the trends in the past. In previous instances of unrest, engagements were held with communities without solid plans, budgets and deliverables to which government could be held to account,” Mashaba said. 

READ: Lenasia residents, alleged land invaders face off

The mayor said while it is no secret that the relationship between the City and the Gauteng provincial government has been strained by the “political attacks on the City”, the challenges in the south of Johannesburg require them to work together for the benefit of the City’s residents.

“A game of political finger-pointing, or one-upmanship will not benefit the residents in these affected areas,” said Mashaba. 

“This is particularly true given that land parcels belonging to both the province and the City have been constructed upon. Equally the City’s efforts to address such cases has been hampered by the SAPS (SA Police Service) not taking up its investigative and intelligence gathering functions.”

Mashaba said these functions are critical given that they are the sole preserve of the SAPS and there is a need to identify those orchestrating and profiteering from these occupations.

“I look forward to engaging MEC Maile towards addressing these challenges, and our joint approach to the residents of Lenasia,” Mashaba said. 

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