The City’s specialised Anti-Land Invasion Unit(ALIU) was recently joined by 40 additional officers, increasing the unit’s capacity to respond rapidly and attend to more incidents. The unit now has a total number of 94 permanent staff members.
The officers were appointed in July this year, and went through an intensive two month training programme where they gained valuable practical experience before they could join the ranks of this specialised Law Enforcement Unit.
The ALIU will also soon welcome the arrival of special (hardened)vehicles that will be able to deal with public violence and protest action enabling officers to more effectively protect City property.
‘Land invasions pose a serious threat to service delivery and housing opportunities as it derails planning and development processes. The City cannot simply allow certain groups or individuals who orchestrate invasions and disrupt, destroy and incite violence and lawlessness. The City is in the process of developing legislation that will more effectively deal with the illegal occupation of land, including a policy that will underpin such legislation. This will put us in a better position to deal with persons who engage in or orchestrate land invasion activity and hold them accountable for their actions,’ said Executive Mayor Alderman Dan Plato.
The additional staff will allow the unit to be operational on a 24-hour basis, using a shift rotational work schedule. This will allow them to not only remove and arrest suspects, but also to monitor land invasion hotspots, follow up on complaints and assist the South African Police Service in criminal investigations following land invasions.
‘Every land invasion will result in decades of misery for those occupying the land illegally such as high crime rates, serious risk of fires, constant problems with flooding and an inability for the City to deliver services due to poor access to service vehicles. Also, council is unable to render services due to the unplanned and unstructured nature of such unlawful occupation as waiting lists for other areas are serviced first.
‘Increasing the capacity of this important unit will allow the City to protect its property against illegal land occupiers. In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of illegal land invasions and attempted invasions, as well as an increase in violence associated with the resultant protests, including the senseless destruction of City infrastructure and damage to private property. The recent violence in Du Noon is testament to this,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
One of the key deliverables of the ALIU is to protect City-owned land and Council Rental Stock (CRU). The Unit will also act against any anti-social behavior of persons illegally occupying CRUs.
Members of the public with information relating to the illegal invasion of city land should report this to the City’s Public Emergency Call Centre on 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cell phone.