City of Tshwane investigates illegal settlement


By Warren Mabona, GroundUp

The Tshwane Metro Council has announced that it has launched an investigation into the development of the Leeuwfontein suburb near Mamelodi in Pretoria East.

This neighborhood apparently arose without legal subdivision of the property, rezoning or plans.

The announcement of the investigation follows after residents complained at the beginning of June that they were living without any basic services, such as power, water, sewage, garbage disposal and street maintenance.

Selby Bokaba, spokesperson for the metro council, said on June 28 that the council had issued infringement notices to the landowners and the matter had been referred to the council’s legal department.

He said the landowners subdivided the plots and illegally sold them to residents. The landowners involved have been identified as Mirror Development Projects Trust (now called Mirror Developers). There is another company and an individual involved, but none of them have yet been located.

On the provision of basic services, Bokaba said the metro council does not have a program to help the people living on plots they bought illegally.

“This (illegal subdivision and sale of land) is a criminal offense that must be dealt with through due process,” said Bokaba.

According to Bokaba, such illegal sales are a challenge at the national level.

Residents who spoke to GroundUp said they bought their properties from Malesela Marema. Marema confirmed it sold plots through Mirror Developers.

Nenkie Mashowa and Jubilee Mtweni said they bought their plots for R80 000 each.

According to these residents, they were promised that there would be development in the area, including basic services such as running water and electricity.

Several residents said they welcome the metro council’s investigation and hope it will lead to Leeuwfontein being formalized.

One of them is Ernest Buthelezi.

He built a double-storey house on the plot he bought from Marema in 2019.

“I resigned from my job and used R145 000 from my pension payout to buy this plot in 2019,” said Buthelezi.

Abel Sikatane said he bought his plot in 2015 for R87 000 from Marema. Some of the money came from his pension payout.

“Then I built a house for my family. I am disappointed now because there are no basic services here. I hope the investigation will bring about good changes,” Sikatane said.

Neither Buthelezi nor Sikatane have received title deeds, despite requests.

Marema said that in 2010 Mirror Developers applied to the metro council for the establishment of a township and submitted all the requirements in person. He said the council never responded.

“They are not telling the truth. The municipality also wanted to take over the area (Leeuwfontein) in 2022. They asked for the cost and we gave them everything in a report, but they did not come back to us,” he claimed.

GroundUp asked Marema to show them what he had submitted and made an appointment to see the documents. When they got there, he said his “city planner” had just taken the files. He said he had appointed a town planner to apply again to the council for the establishment of the town and to formalize Leeuwfontein.

What is not disputed is that the development was done without approval.

  • The report was originally posted on GroundUp and is used with permission.