Mmegi Online :: Anger and tears as thousands scramble for land
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Monday 12 November 2018, 18:00 pm.
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Anger and tears as thousands scramble for land

Haggard, desperate, dejected, angry, resigned, irritable are some of the adjectives you would use to describe the feeling of the human sea that besieged Oodi Sub-Land Board offices yesterday following the land authority’s announcements it was receiving applications.
By Greg Kelebonye Thu 27 Nov 2014, 14:40 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Anger and tears as thousands scramble for land








A casual look suggested up to 50,000 people came to submit their application forms for the only  400 available plots in the villages of Oodi, Modipane, Dikwididi, Mokatse, Bokaa and Morwa.

So desperate to make it among the first were many of the applicants that hundreds of them spent the night in tents and vehicles and in the open, in the foregrounds of the Land Board offices.

Some of the people who spoke to Mmegi said they arrived at the offices the previous afternoon (on Tuesday).

“I came here around 3pm yesterday, and now what do I have to show for it?” asked a young man, as the human line, hugged the land-board fence, see-sawing as emotions took a toll on the tired mass of pressing humanity.

“I have been here since 10 last night. I am number 4, 001 and you people who are just arriving think you can just come and jump the queue?”  complained another young man as thousands more people arrived.   Many of them had abandoned their vehicles in the middle of the road, nearly two kilometres away.  Unbeknown to many of them, a traffic jam had been building throughout the night and thousands of vehicles had formed a solid two-kilometre blockade all the way to the Land Board Offices. More people arrived beginning midnight, and tempers flared as those already at the front of the queue fought to keep their places.

“My brother, what do you do when there are only 400 plots available and everyone from everywhere wants the same plot that you need?

“You make sure you are the first person to submit your application!” said a young lady, almost tearfully, after the now uncontrollable crowd managed to push her from her place in the line.

Then, a young man suggested they should remove the giant gate leading into the Land Board premises. He jumped over the fence as the crowd pushed and jostled.  The gate would not budge, and the huge chain and padlock remained faithful to it, but the Land Board fence could not withstand the thousands of tons of active human flesh that relentlessly pushed and pulled at it. The huge poles bent like soldering wire and

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the huge security fence came tumbling down. Even as the fence came down, hundreds were already inside the premises and queued up. On the ground lay a man with a potentially broken knee. His leg was caught between the gate and one of the supporting poles. It took a few ‘good Samaritans’ to move him to safety, and away from the crowd that would surely have flattened him to the ground.  A dozen police officers arrived to bring order, but even they realised they could be stampeded. “These people are so disorderly they will crush you if you try to walk to the front of the queue to merely talk with them,” said one of the officers.

The  Land Board staff, among them Board Secretary Neo Moremi arrived at 6:30 am.

Bagaetsho, it is not safe to go into your offices, please do not try to go into your offices,” warned a police officer as the Land Board staff trooped towards the building entrance.  Realising the staff would not listen, the police had to be firmer and finally managed to take the staff to the back of the building where strategies were discussed on how to handle the swelling mass of people within and outside the premises. Finally they agreed to provide any type of container – from cardboards to cooler boxes to huge rubbish bins for people to throw in their applications. “We will sort the applications later,” Moremi told Mmegi amidst the din of enquiring voices.

“What people also do not realise is that this process is ongoing. We will not close today,” she said.

But Moremi, like her colleagues in Ramotswa, Mogoditshane and Tlokweng, would have realised too late what a blunder her office had made.

They had made the announcement that the Land Board was receiving applications without stating the time frame, and by not providing a friendlier atmosphere for receipt of applications. “We know they are going to throw away those applications and allocate (plots) to their friends and relatives, and there will be no proof that we ever applied,” said a dejected applicant who claimed to have slept by the entrance of the Land Board premises.

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