Protests against the demolition of shacks in Lawley were orchestrated by “crime syndicates” that mobilized residents against the Johannesburg Metro’s actions against land grabs.
That’s how Lebogang Maile, MEC for cooperative government, said at a news conference on Tuesday. He and Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo would visit Lawley on Sunday after hundreds of vacant structures and shacks were demolished by the Red Ants on behalf of the city.
The planned meeting with disgruntled residents was canceled after residents set fire to the rubble and tires in the streets in protest of the demolition of the structures.
Maile, however, insists that community members were “led around the bush” by unscrupulous criminals.
“As a result, a large number of community members, including the elderly and children, were mobilized to protest against the city, completely contrary to the containment measures, which show how inhumane and numb these crime syndicates are. They not only exploit the legitimate concerns of the most vulnerable people in our community for their own selfish reasons, but are even willing to jeopardize the health and life of the same people to achieve their criminal purpose.
“There has been a noticeable and alarming increase in illegal land use since the announcement of the restriction by Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Crime syndicates exploit legitimate housing needs among communities in this unprecedented Covid-19 crisis and lag behind the increase in illegal land use nationwide.”
Maile says people from outside Lawley are being abused by crime syndicates to show their opposition to the city’s efforts to stop land occupation.
“These people not only come from Lawley, they come from other areas. They are driven by buses. Who pays for it, who mobilizes them? This shows that we are dealing here with well-organized, dangerous, heartless, sophisticated criminals, ”he says.