The City of Cape Town is bolstering its specialised anti-land invasion unit and looking to introduce new laws as it continues to battle land invasions.
In a statement on Wednesday (20 September), the city said that 40 additional officers have joined its Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU), 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 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, it said.
Executive mayor Dan Plato said that the city would also be looking to introduce new legislation to tackle the issue.
“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,” he said.
Plato said that 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, he said.
“Increasing the capacity of this important unit will allow the City to protect its property against illegal land occupiers,” said the city’s mayoral committee member for Safety and Security, JP Smith.
“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.”