Questions remain unanswered regarding Government response to Grabouw land invasions

Issued by Dave Bryant MP – DA Shadow Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
27 Oct 2022 in News

On Tuesday the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure presented to the portfolio committee on Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment regarding the ongoing land invasions at the Grabouw Forestry plantations.

As a result of DPWI’s failure to prevent the ongoing land invasions, the Minister of DFFE Barbara Creecy has been forced to completely cancel any potential forestry activities at the site, putting paid to the thousands of potential jobs and a much needed boost to the local economy.

This is a tragedy for the local people of Grabouw and surrounds who would have benefitted from these jobs.

During the meeting members of the DA raised questions to the Minister of DPWI, Patricia de Lille regarding the current security being provided at the site and alleged past failures to prevent the site from being invaded.

Last year, the Minister of DPWI responded to a Parliamentary question stating that adequate security had been provided on the site to prevent any further invasions. At that stage there were a few hundred people at the site. The official statistics provided by the DPWI at yesterday’s meeting put the current number at 2,380 people while other reports have put the number at over 4,000 people.

It is clear that the steps taken by the DPWI at the time were completely inadequate to prevent further land invasions.

In a further bizarre twist, it was revealed during the meeting that the DPWI actively intervened last year to prevent the Sherriff and the SAPS from carrying out the removal of unoccupied and incomplete structures during the early phases of the invasions.

The SAPS officials who were present at the meeting, including Western Cape Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Patakile were unable to advise as to who from DPWI interfered in this process and what the reasons given were. They were also unable to advise as to whether it was standard practice for officials from a department to interfere with the activities of the Sherriff.

The SAPS have committed to get this information and provide it to the committee as a matter of urgency.

The SAPS have further advised that following on from requests made by members of the DFFE committee, they have launched an investigation to establish who was involved in orchestrating the invasions.

The case number for this investigation, opened at the Grabouw Police Station is 1/09/2022. The SAPS have appealed to anyone with information of evidence regarding the instigators of the invasions to provide this to them as a matter of urgency. They have also provided a separate hotline for anyone wishing to provide information of evidence anonymously. This number is 0800 314 444.

The DFFE will play no further role in these sites going forward and the sites will be handed back to the DPWI in their entirety. The destruction of these jobs and the loss of further economic opportunities should not go unchallenged. It is now essential that those responsible for orchestrating these land invasions are identified, along with those who willfully looked the other way.

We encourage anyone with information to provide this to the SAPS as a matter of urgency.