Land grab threat grips Hout Bay

The focus has fallen on land shortages and a call for a land grab by a top Cosatu official in the Western Cape in the first election salvoes in the prestigious beach haven municipal ward of Hout Bay in Cape Town — where a by-election is to take place soon.

Patricia de Lille's Independent Democrats has condemned "the inflammatory and divisive statements" made by Cosatu's secretary in the Western Cape, Tony Ehrenreich, who has urged informal settlement dwellers in Hout Bay — a largely wealthy white area of Cape Town — to stake their claims against large farm holdings in the area.

Pressing need for land

In a statement — reacting to a report in a Cape Town publication reporting that Ehrenreich said there was a need to take some of the land from the white communities and redistribute this to the townships that were going up in Hout Bay — Independent Democrats' Cape Town city council caucus leader Simon Grindrod said: "While there is a pressing need for land to accommodate expanding informal settlements in Hout Bay, it is deeply irresponsible of Tony Ehrenreich to encourage residents of the informal settlements to seize land from white communities."

Ehrenreich was addressing an election rally in Hout Bay — where there is a sizeable informal black settlement — where a municipal by-election is expected to take place next month.

The sitting Democratic Alliance councillor died last month — effectively reducing DA Mayor Helen Zille's multi-party administration from a two-seat majority to just a one-seat majority.

Dangerous statements

Grindrod — who said on Thursday that his party had not yet decided whether it would put up a candidate in the ward — said the city and province must urgently release the promised 16 hectares of land needed for low-cost housing and informal settlements in Hout Bay.

Grindrod said Ehrenreich's statements "are designed to capitalise on the genuine frustrations of those waiting in squalid and dangerous conditions for land and housing".

"His dangerous and threatening statement will do nothing but increase fear, suspicion and division amongst the various communities in Hout Bay."

"As the electioneering continues, I trust that all parties will remember the consequences of their words and actions. It is wrong to exploit the despair of the poor and vulnerable."

Ehrenreich told a local newspaper that the claims should not be seen as land grabs but as the equitable distribution of resources.

The DA and African National Congress — which said that legal land processes should be followed in the area — are both expected to run in the ward.

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Article by: Donwald Pressly - www.iafrica.com