In our experience of legal action against land occupation the driving force of land invasion is often the insidious practice known as “plot farming”. In communities with a dire need for housing in sub-urban areas, this practice is employed to create the false pretense of an opportunity to obtain a piece of land.
Plot farming entails that a consortium of persons would identify an area of vacant land and would then let it be known, frequently by using fake documents, that they are entitled to allocate or sell portions of that land to landless persons.
The consortium would extract payment (R500, for example) from persons who believe they are buying a real right in land. The perpetrators of the scheme would then indicate a portion of vacant land, informing the “buyers” that this piece of land is now theirs.
The “buyers” then attempt to relocate to the property where they have “bought” land.
Although the practice of “plot farming” is illegal in terms of section 3(1) of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998, the perpetrators are apparently seldom prosecuted.
Concerted efforts of land invasion – the unfortunate result of plot farming – almost invariably takes place on a Saturday or Sunday or a public holiday, when police resources, which should be the land owner’s recourse against trespassing on its property, are often not available.
The owner of vacant land will learn of the impending invasion either when a large group of people approach the vacant piece of land with building materials, ready to erect structures unlawfully, or when it comes to the owner’s knowledge that plots have already been measured out (usually with sticks and plastic sheets).
Should the owner fail to take immediate action to prevent a land invasion, the owner will effectively lose control of its vacant land and will have to institute costly and protracted eviction proceedings to take back control of the land. The owner must therefore act urgently to stop the proverbial dam wall from breaking.
A case history: A client of ours recently faced this scenario, when informed that unknown persons were moving onto his vacant property and measuring out plots. There was clearly a concerted effort of impending land invasion. Our client immediately contacted us to assist with obtaining an interdict to prevent the land invasion. We successfully obtained an urgent interim interdict (on a Saturday evening) prohibiting any person from entering upon our client’s property, effectively preventing a land invasion and protecting our client’s property. The interim interdict was subsequently made final and any person attempting to invade our client’s vacant land would face the consequences of contempt of court.
Should you have any questions regarding “plot farming” and the court process to prevent this, please contact our eviction department, at 021 808 5600.