The FF Plus laid a criminal charge against the ANC councillor Sephiri Lephoko, who reportedly encouraged community members during a community meeting on Sunday, 5 August 2018, to illegally occupy land near the Meloding informal settlement at Virginia.

The charge is formulated in terms of the Riotous Assemblies Act No 17 of 1956, seeing as Lephoko was reportedly encouraging community members to commit a crime. Apparently spurred on by his alleged statement, nearly a thousand people proceeded to illegally occupy the farm Christiana near Virginia.

A fire was started on the farm and nearly 300ha of veld burnt down before the fire was brought under control.

The incitement to trespass and occupy privately owned land inevitably goes along with malicious injury to property, public violence and, as in this case, arson.

It is extremely irresponsible and unacceptable for a councillor of a political party to encourage anyone to commit a crime. The consequences of the rash statements made by members of the ANC and even President Cyril Ramaphosa himself, must be nipped in the bud.

The decision concerning expropriation without compensation that the ANC made for cheap political points in the runup to the upcoming national elections will have far reaching consequences. The masses do not understand the legal processes and land grabs are an inevitable consequence.

Apparently, the land occupants are not interested in farming, because productive agricultural land was reportedly set alight to drive away snakes and rats so that houses can be built on the land. The real problem is the shortage of housing in our country and the blame for this can be laid at the door of the ANC government that is unable to provide for South Africans’ basic needs.

Illegal land occupations, like the ones at Virginia and Wesselsbron this past week, are very detrimental to the agricultural sector and ultimately also the economy of South Africa. The uncertainty that it creates in agricultural circles has a direct impact on productivity, food security and job opportunities.