‘Shack farmers’ profit from renting out illegal structures

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By Everson Luhanga

People known as “shack farmers” have invaded land in Midrand’s Glen Austin near Rabie Ridge to build shacks and rent them out to people desperate for accommodation. 

More than 5,000 shacks have been erected, with thousands of people including women and children living there without water, toilets or electricity.

Community members who have taken over as shack farmers are said to make money by selling pieces of land to people looking for a place to stay.

The land along Dane Road stretches to Mayibuye and the Kanana section, opposite the Rabie Ridge police station. In the past four months, more and more people have illegally occupied the land.

Community leader Makampe Seale told Scrolla.Africa they occupied the area illegally because people didn’t have a place to stay. 

“At first, people were not sure if they would stay for very long or if the authorities would evict them. But as time went by, more and more people came forward and they were given stands to erect their shacks,” said Seale.

He said although people are happy to find a place of their own, the living conditions are not ideal, especially for children.

“You can see that people are making toilets by digging holes in their yards. It is a struggle to get water here. There is nowhere to find taps and there is no river to get water.”

Seale said although the majority of people in the area — from different provinces as well as those from neighbouring countries — are desperate for a place to stay, some have built multiple shacks and rented them out.

Shops and taverns have also been set up in the community.

When the Scrolla.Africa team visited the area, shacks had mushroomed on both sides of Dane Road.

In June 2023, former Gauteng provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela said the provincial police were after them.

“We are not only going to arrest the undocumented foreigners but also people who are abetting and assisting illegal migrants in the land,” he said. 

Pictured above: Shacks erected along Dane Road in Glen Austin near Rabie Ridge in Midrand.

Image source: Everson Luhanga


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