Answer to a question from a reader

How can we protect empty municipal land from illegal occupiers? The municipality won't sell to us.

The short answer

You need to contact the municipality to ask why they wouldn't sell. Otherwise call the MEC for Housing.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

There is vacant municipal land next to my mother's bond house. It has stood empty since 1996. She tried to buy the land privately but her application was declined. Since then, people have been illegally occupying the land and putting up shacks not far from her house. We have built a wall because illegal dwellers wanted to move onto our property. What can we do to stop this?

The long answer

Perhaps the first place to start is to go back to the municipality with copies of the forms she completed when she tried to buy the land, and ask for the reasons that her offer was declined. She should also tell them that she is worried about people illegally putting up shacks and ask what she can do.

If she does not get the information she needs and they are not helpful, she can approach the MEC for Housing in her province, and tell him that she has not been assisted by the municipality as to why her offer to buy the land was refused and as to what she can do now. The MEC can investigate and overturn the municipality’s decision if he concludes that the municipality was wrong.

Government housing assistance contact details:

Housing Enquiries Hotline: 0800 146 873

Gauteng: 011 355 4000

Western Cape: 079 769 1207 (Please Call Me)

Eastern Cape: 043 711 9901/2/3

KwaZulu Natal: 033 392 6400 or 033 3365300

North West: 018 388 5403

Limpopo: 015 284 5000

Northern Cape: 053 830 9422

Free State: 051 405 3883

Mpumalanga: 013 766 6087

There is also a Human Settlements Ombudsman, Themba Mthethwa, whose job is to settle disputes between individuals, communities and municipalities, and to promote transparency and trust in government. Ombudsmen are independent and provide a free service. She can contact the ombudsman at, or at the Call Centre: 0800 1 (HOUSE) 46873 (weekdays 6am – 10pm).

Wishing you the best,

Answered on March 26, 2021, 9:50 a.m.

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