Council razes down fences at illegal plots

Council razes down fences at illegal plots

MASERU – THE Maseru City Council (MCC) on Tuesday destroyed perimeter fences at houses illegally constructed on land reserved for sports facilities in Lepereng. The council also pulled down the fences at plots it said were illegally acquired in the area.
It warned that it might demolish the houses if the owners refuse to move.

Owners of the four sites and homes were not around when the municipality officials, accompanied by four uniformed policemen armed with rifles, destroyed the fences. Neighbours said the owners were at work.
MCC spokeswoman ’Makatleho Mosala said the houses “were built on council land earmarked for development projects”.
“This area is reserved for sports facilities,” Mosala said.

Some of the people have been staying in the area for more than two decades.
Mosala said whoever allocated or sold the land to those people did not follow council regulations because that area has always been reserved for sports facilities.
She said the people had always known that they did not own the land. Mosala said the MCC held several meetings with the people to explain why they should not build on the land “but they did not listen”. “We did not come once but many times,” Mosala said.

She admitted that it is possible that some of the people could have bought the land from other officials in the structures of the local government but insisted that only the city council has the authority to sell land.

“If people want sites they should visit the council to avoid things like this.” “These people who are illegally placed here do not even have the documents that prove they have to live here.” Mosala said the people had ignored clear signs in the area that the land belongs to the government.
“When we decided to fence off the area, they were vandalised and stolen.”

Asked why some of the houses had been connected to potable water and electricity Mosala said it was due to a “miscommunication” between the MCC and the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) and the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC).
She said the council has recently agreed with WASCO and LEC to connect illegally constructed houses. Every connection, she said, has to be based on ownership documents.

One of the villagers who built a house on the land last year, Nthabeleng Lepolesa, said the municipality is being unfair to them “because we are not even sure as to where the government land is”. “I am afraid that maybe I have also built my house in that disputed part of the land,” Lepolesa said.
“If our houses are going to be destroyed the MCC should have warned us at the time when we started building instead of waiting until we have built.”
“I have never been invited to a public meeting where the ownership of this land was discussed. Last week I went to WASCO to pay for water and nothing was said to me,” she said.

’Mantšali Phenethi, a home owner in the area, said she is furious that they are being “harassed” soon after the election.
“After we have voted they just forget us . . . , the people who are illegally placed in this area,” she said.

’Makhotso Rakotsoane

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