Patricia de Lille says her appointment as minister of public works and infrastructure is a “great opportunity” to address spatial justice in all towns and cities across South Africa.

She said she would work with all three spheres of government to ensure that public land is used for public good and to reverse apartheid’s spatial planning.

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is the custodian of all fixed property which is owned by the state – including land and buildings that legislation does not hold another department or institution responsible for.

“While it is difficult to say exactly what my key focus areas will be at this stage, spatial justice is right up there,” said De Lille shortly after she was appointed.

De Lille has always been outspoken about spatial justice and even started a campaign while she was the mayor of Cape Town to release pockets of state-owned land for low-cost housing.

The minister lamented that many poor people spend the bulk of their salaries on transport costs because they live far from where they work.

“Engagement must take place. We must swop well-located land for housing opportunities so that people can have better lives and so this talk of a better life for all can become a reality.

“We must make the land available. I believe this was and is the right thing to do. I think, now that I am the minister, this might be easier to achieve than when I was the mayor.”