More than 2 000 people converged at the Rietspruit Farm on the N11 Amersfoort Road on Friday, 5 October after word got out the previous day that land was to be allocated on the municipal land.
Traffic on the N11 was affected as people came in droves with building materials, to mark their stands, and cars lined up all the way from the main road to the reservoirs situated there.
According to people on the ground, a van had done the rounds the previous evening, hailing around the Wesselton township that land was going to be allocated in Rietspruit.
Tensions ran high when the Chief Whip of Msukaligwa, Ms Phumzile Mashiane and municipal officials arrived on the scene to allegedly begin the process of land allocation.
According to eyewitnesses, guns were drawn, shots fired and lists of beneficiaries of the land burnt.
Confusion was at an all time high which prompted the Highvelder to enquire at the Msukaligwa Municipality whether they knew about the process of land allocation at Rietspruit and if it was indeed legal.
At the time, the municipal spokesman, Mr Mandla Zwane, stated that Msukaligwa had no knowledge of such.
His words were confirmed by the ward councillor of the area, who also stated that she had no knowledge of such happening.
After all the commotion, things died down and people left Rietspruit the same way they arrived, in droves.
After an enquiry into the matter, the Highvelder has learnt that the happenings on Friday at Rietspruit were, in fact, legal and not a land grab or illegal land occupation, as initially reported.
According to Msukaligwa, the Rietspruit Farm was bought for the municipality by the Department of Human Settlements as it was and it is intended to be developed into a mix-human-development settlement.
The settlement includes residential sites which include low-cost sites and 20 per cent is for middle to high-income earners.
The development will also include buildings to rent, as well as institutions such as schools, community halls and business stands.
Parks are also in the pipeline as well as infrastructures such as sewage, water, roads and electricity.
In total, there are 4772 residential sites in Rietspruit.
The Department of Human Settlement appointed town planners to do the township establishment which was done and the township will be known as Ermelo Ext 44.
“What occurred on Friday, 5 October, was not a land grab, nor it was illegal land occupation, and municipal officials went there to orderly show the low cost sites to the potential beneficiaries,” Mr Zwane clarified.
He added the beneficiaries list was canvassed from different wards in Wesselton and each ward has about 250 beneficiaries.
The newspaper then asked what went wrong on the day.
“On the day in question, some people came there to pursue their own agenda, caused commotion and prevented municipal officials from executing their duties,” Mr Zwane said.
He added that Msukaligwa acknowledges that it could and should have done better to avoid the commotion as it was practically impossible to show more than 2 000 beneficiaries in one day without any commotion.
Mr Zwane did however state that the process will continue in the not too distance future and the beneficiaries will be notified in due course of the dates and times.
The Highvelder also learnt the Chief Whip, Ms Mashiane, opened a case at the Ermelo police station on Friday.
According to Capt Carla Prinsloo, spokesman of the police, Ms Mashiane opened a case of attempted murder as shots were fired on the day.
The newspaper will be following the story closely as it develops.