DA to take decisive action on eviction laws in Parliament

Issued by Emma Louise Powell MP – DA Shadow Minister of Human Settlements
21 Aug 2022 in News

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbite by Emma Louise Powell MP.

In the absence of any action being taken by the ANC to address the crisis of illegal land grabs, the DA will this week submit to Parliament a Private Members Amendment Bill to the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998.

Sections 73 and 119 of the Constitution expressly provide individual Members of Parliament with the power to initiate legislation in Parliament.

The DA has always been at the forefront of protecting property owner’s rights, whilst ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable in our society are cared for by the State within its available resources.

The issue of illegal land grabs has now become a major crisis across South Africa, placing an immense financial and logistical burden on all major Metropolitan Municipalities, as well as many private property owners.

The announcement of the national State of Disaster, and the moratorium placed on evictions, also led to a sharp spike in illegal property invasions across South Africa.

In addition to the prohibitive costs incurred by safeguarding land under development, municipalities are obliged to provide additional basic services to newly invaded land parcels that have not been provisioned for in statutory budget and planning processes. Money spent on private security and servicing costs means less resources are available to tackle the housing backlog.

The unlawful occupation of land also leads to severe dysfunctionality in cities, including the obstruction of sewerage infrastructure and access for upgrading and maintenance; pollution of waterways; safety hazards due to illegal electricity connections; the loss of rail reserves for trains to run safely; and loss of investment and value for property owners.

A shortage of amenities like clinics, schools and community centres close to invaded land places immense pressure on municipalities and surrounding communities.

Illegal land invasions also frequently result in violations of planning and environmental legislation, including the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act, the Spatial Land Use Management Act, the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act and numerous local by-laws.

In terms of the current law, where eviction orders are granted on both private and public property, government is frequently required to provide permanent accommodation to land and property grabbers who have been in illegal occupation for longer than 6 months.

This deprives law abiding South Africans, who are patiently waiting on the housing demand database, of their opportunities.

The intention of the Amendment Bill is as follows:

  • Limit the application of the Act;
  • Insert and amend certain definitions;
  • Create punitive measures for those who incite, promote and participate in orchestrated and unlawful invasions;
  • Provide explicit criteria that must be satisfied during court proceedings prior to a municipality being ordered to provide alternative accommodation;
  • Allow the courts to determine the length of time alternative accommodation would need to be provided to an unlawful occupier;
  • Compel the courts to explore additional reasons for the illegal occupation, as well as the maintenance obligations of the occupier’s family when considering judgement.

The only way that we are going to guard against the mounting crisis of land invasions, and the illegal occupation of private property, whilst at the same time safeguarding the rights of our poorest citizens, is to now amend the existing Act.

Earlier this year, the DA passed our first national Human Settlements Policy for implementation where we govern. This innovative and evidence based policy, based on international best practice, will go a long way towards addressing the housing crisis in South Africa. Land invasions are antithetical to this vision.

More information will be provided on the specific remedies contained in the proposed Bill in days to come.