Close to 60 Gauteng families now face an uncertain future. Another 30 families have been left distraught after their homes were demolished last week because the Midvaal Local Municipality says the housing development is illegal.
The properties are located on a farm in Elandsfontein near the Grasmere Toll Plaza south of Johannesburg.
Some residents took all their investments to build their dream homes but now all that hard work has been reduced to rubble while others face the prospects of seeing all their investment torn down.
“The Red Ants arrived with the police and lots of lorries. It was a dramatic day for me, they started demolishing the houses saying that the protocols were not followed and stuff,” says a resident.
On Tuesday last week, the residents woke up to the sounds of bulldozers and excavators tearing down their homes.
More than 30 properties were destroyed. The municipality says it only targeted unoccupied and incomplete structures, but residents told SABC News that one house was demolished whilst the owner had gone out to a spaza shop.
“So we are scared, we do not know what to do. We don’t sleep, we don’t eat, high bloods are getting high because this is sick,” adds another resident.
Another resident says Midvaal Local Municipality has never consulted them about this.
“The municipality itself, it never came with any notification to anyone here and when they say they have been telling people who did they inform. I personally I bought here in 2019 and I have been staying here. Nobody came and addressed us. So, I mean in our rightful minds who will build in an illegal place if you know it is illegal.”
But the Midvaal Local Municipality says the residents were warned on numerous occasions and the developer of the properties, Ntha Property was asked to cease all construction activities and to comply with the necessary Town Planning and Building Control development process but failed to do so.
Midvaal Development and Planning MMC Lynda Parsonson says when the developer eventually submitted documentation there was one crucial piece of paper that is still outstanding.
“But one vital document that they did not submit was proof of ownership of land. So, we sent it all back to say we cannot approve this development until he submits proof of ownership of land. There was no application for municipal services. We checked with Eskom there is no application for electricity.”
The properties have no electricity and running water and residents rely on Jojo tanks for water supply.
In a response Ntha Property says they have complied and submitted all documentation to the municipality. This includes the draft tittle deed which Ntha Property say is a proof they have bought the plot.
It says they busy getting Eskom to install electricity and they are providing water supply in terms of the Jojo tanks.
The Gauteng Human Settlements department says the land in dispute is privately owned and falls outside of its jurisdiction, and referred SABC News back to the Midvaal municipality.
The municipality’s Lynda Parsonson says the remaining properties will also be targeted for demolition. “We want them to vacate, yes they have been given notice to vacate.”
But Ntha Property says they too have obtained a court order stopping further demolitions.
For the residents whose properties were not demolished, each day that passes leaves them to question if they will still have a roof over their heads.