The EFF on Monday said it was unfazed by allegations that an open piece of land in Mzimhlophe‚ Soweto that it wanted to occupy was already leased to another company.
The land is currently being used to farm dozens of cattle. “When we say that the land is vacant‚ it means it is unoccupied…. It is freely open‚ whether there is an owner or not…” said EFF councilor Donald Mabunda.
He claimed that locals from Meadowlands‚ Orlando and Mzimhlophe had struggled to get in contact with the owners of the land and had since decided to occupy it. Some arrived there with material‚ ready to occupy the land.
According to a Johannesburg Metro Police official on scene‚ members of the community decided to embark on a protest when they heard that a letter from the sheriff would be brought to them‚ informing that their occupation of the land is illegal.
The protesting group blockaded the main road leading to the N17 highway with burning tyres and rocks.
A fire at the nearby railway station was believed to have been started by protestors.
This led to disruptions to train operations in New Canada‚ Dube and Mzimhlophe.
Lt-Col Kay Makhubela confirmed that eight people were arrested and charged with public violence.
Mabunda however‚ questioned the arrests. He claimed that some of those arrested were not even participating in the land occupation.
“We are still going to question the merits of their arrests‚” he told TimesLive.
Meanwhile‚ the group of people who wanted to occupy the land had already come up with a name for the new informal settlement which they wanted to start there.
Refusing to disclose the name‚ Mabunda said‚ “It has something to do with thanking the EFF for pushing and advocating for this thing”.