Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Emma Louise Powell, MP
The Democratic Alliance (DA) can confirm that the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from Unlawful Occupation of Land Amendment Bill 2023 has been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements by the Speaker of the National Assembly, in line with Rule 283(1) read together with Rule 285. The Programming Committee of Parliament will now place this item onto the Order Paper for introduction in the National Assembly.
Illegal land grabs have become a crisis, placing enormous financial and logistical burdens on Municipalities throughout South Africa. Money required to secure sites against invasion is now reallocated from housing budgets, depriving law-abiding citizens of their rightful opportunities.
Currently, the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land, Act 19 of 1998 (“PIE”) creates a rigid set of definitions and requirements that need to be satisfied in order for a person to be lawfully evicted, despite their intentions or circumstances during such illegal occupation.
According to Section 4(7) of the current Act, where an unlawful occupier has been occupying a property for more than six months, the court is obliged to consider alternative land in deciding whether it is just and equitable to issue an eviction order.
In recent judgements, the courts have interpreted Section 4(7) to place a responsibility on Municipalities to provide permanent, formal housing within a specific radius.
The DA’s amendment bill will:
- Criminalise the incitement of illegal land invasions regardless of whether or not financial exchanges occurred;
- Extend the explicit criteria that courts must consider before granting an order for alternative accommodation for an unlawful occupier; and
- Require the courts specify the length of time, if any, a municipality is required to provide alternative accommodation to unlawful occupiers.
The DA has always been at the forefront of protecting the rights of property owner, whilst ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable in our society are cared for by the State within its available means.
If decisive action is not taken to address and regulate the issue of on-going and orchestrated land invasions, this crisis will materialise as legislatively enabled expropriation without compensation.
The public and civil society are kindly invited to provide their comments on the PIE Bill before it proceeds to the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.