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Eviction news

‘Land occupation’ eviction processes to come under spotlight in Vrygrond case

By | Eviction news, Uncategorized

A court challenge in an ongoing demolish-and-rebuild stand-off between the City of Cape Town and residents in Vrygrond, near Muizenberg, may bring some clarity about eviction processes relating to the illegal occupation of land.

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The application, brought by some Vrygrond residents who previously protested over their plight, was supposed to heard in the Western Cape High Court on Friday, but was postponed for oral evidence.

“We don’t have the court date yet, but we expect it to be in this week still,” Mike Kumalo, chairperson of the Vrygrond Community Forum, said on Monday.

The applicants want clarity on whether the residents occupied the structures before June 18 when they were demolished; whether the City unlawfully evicted people when it demolished shacks on this date and whether it took away people’s belongings while doing so.

The applicants are the Vrygrond Community Forum, Nozingisa Mposi, Kunjulwa Menze, Ntombizanele Lindani, Mcebiseni Mpola, Siphamandla Blayi, Mncekeleli Qaweshe and Nothemba Mongo. The respondents are the City, the municipal manager and Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato. 

“Since some time last year, the City has been demolishing some homes [and] leaving some,” Kumalo told News24 on Friday. “We have been asking: ‘Why is the City inconsistent and what authority do they use to demolish people’s dwellings?'”

Shacks have been built on land between a landfill site and Vrygrond, named Xakabantu. 

Land earmarked for construction, then later nature reserve

Kumalo explained that this particular piece of land was originally earmarked for a housing development and residents were asked to leave to facilitate construction.

However, they had not seen any construction.

They moved back onto the land but then discovered it had been reclassified as part of a nature reserve, further complicating the issue.

Khumalo claimed there was no public participation that included the residents themselves. In addition, the issue of creating a buffer zone between Xakabantu and the landfill site and the nature reserve had also arisen.

In May 2018, the City obtained an interim interdict preventing the further building of houses and the demolition of any new houses.

Kumalo said it was nailed to a tree and that some people living there were later “given a number” by the City allowing them to stay, but not all were given a number.

This process in itself is causing friction between people who received a number and those who did not. There were also allegations of “number buying”.

Kumalo said the matter must be resolved once and for all because, as recently as June 18, more homes were demolished.

Electioneering

He added that residents felt that officials seemed to accept Xakabantu as a suburb when they went there for electioneering, but not at other times.

“During elections, law enforcement officials took pictures. People came to campaign. They said ‘Let people live there, let people stay;’ and then one day they decide: ‘Let’s go and break everything down.'” 

Residents want to know whether the City is following due process in the demolition of shacks.

On Friday, Judge Ashley Binns-Ward decided that the case should include oral evidence from witnesses. The case was postponed for an urgent date for the hearing from Judge President John Hlophe.

The Xakabantu issue comes weeks after the legality of a massive house-bulldozing operation in Johannesburg’s Alexandra was questioned. 

Source: News24

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For more information or help with an eviction matter, Contact Cape Town Eviction Attorney Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

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Court declares shack eviction unlawful

By | Eviction news, Homeless, Uncategorized

Tswelopele residents from Extension 8 won a legal victory against the EMPD and the City of Ekurhuleni on May 6 at the North Gauteng High Court.

The City of Ekurhuleni was ordered by the North Gauteng High Court on May 6 to desist from evicting land occupiers in Tswelopele Extension 8 without a court order. The City also has to pay each occupier R1 500 for damages to property that was caused during prior evictions.

Thandeka Chauke, a lawyer for Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), who represented the occupiers, said the order declared the evictions were unconstitutional and unlawful.

Residents of Tswelopele took to the streets on March 19 in protest against the lack of service delivery and land occupation. Their anger was directed at the DA councillor of Ward 9, Dereck Thompson.

They marched to the councillor’s office in Olifantsfontein, but he was not present. They demanded that the office give them the right to occupy the piece of land on which they had built their shacks.

Florah Tjabadi, the community protest leader, said they wanted to meet with the councillor but he did not arrive.

“We hoped to get the land because we are currently living in shacks as tenants. The properties also accommodate orphans and pensioners and the majority of tenants are unemployed,” said Tjabadi.

Unlawful eviction

The residents of Tswelopele Extension 8 have won a court victory against the EMPD and the City of Ekurhuleni.

Chauke said the court interdict would give the occupiers peace of mind because no one would repeatedly come and destroy their possessions.

Tjabadi said they were happy about winning.

“We have been trying to put a stop to the harassment since August last year and at last, we won. It means we won’t have to worry about paying rent and we can go out to look for jobs.”

Tjabadi claimed the EMPD had evicted the occupiers countless times, without ever showing the occupiers an eviction order. The first eviction was on December 16, four months after they took occupation of the land.

“We started to stay on the piece of land in August last year and we were chased away more than 10 times. Our belongings were scattered everywhere,” added Tjabadi.

The EMPD and the City withdrew their counter-application, but they previously argued in court papers that the occupiers did not live on the property and the structures were vacant or incomplete when they were demolished. They said the City did not need an eviction order to demolish vacant or incomplete structures.

“The structures were mostly incomplete and impossible for people to reside in and no children or elderly people were noted at the property,” the City said in earlier court papers.

Judge Anthony Millar ordered the City to launch an investigation into the alleged bribery and corruption of EMPD officials and to file a report with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the National Prosecuting Authority and his court within 30 days of the court order. The City was ordered to pay the costs of the case.

Source: Tembisan (emphasis by SDLAW*)

Further reading:

*Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a law firm in Cape Town, now operating in Gauteng and Durban, of specialised eviction attorneys, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our eviction lawyers on +27 (0) 86 099 5146 or info@sdlaw.co.za if you have been evicted unlawfully.

Recognition, respect and ethical responsibility are at the core of our practice.

– Founder, Attorney Simon David Dippenaar

Evicted Durban residents say City had no court order

By | Eviction news, Homeless

Dozens left homeless after shacks demolished on Sunday

Photo of shack
Zamokwakhe Hlongwa stands next to what remains of his shack. Photo: Musa Binda

Forty-five people were left without homes when the eThekwini Municipality’s anti-land invasion unit demolished 24 shacks in Daytona River Village informal settlement in Lamontville, in the south of Durban on Sunday.

Zamokwakhe Hlongwa has lived in the informal settlement for the past four years. He said he lost almost everything during the demolition.

He said he was less worried about finding shelter than where he would get money to buy food for his two small children for the next ten or so days. He only gets paid on the last day of the month.

“They mixed all my food during their heartless demolition. I found rice mixed with maize meal and flour. I had to throw it away because it was messed up,” said Hlongwa.

He said he was home when the demolition took place. But everything happened so quickly.

“My fiancé was bathing when they stormed the informal settlement, she had to grab a towel and cover her body and run out of the shack. As a result all our belongings were left inside the shack,” said Hlongwa. This is why his goods and food were damaged.

He added that his children were not going to school because their uniforms had been torn.

Lunga Mgwaba has lived in the informal settlement for eight years. He said he was not home when the demolition took place. He had gone to deliver the products he sells to a nearby township.

He said he got a call from one of the shack dwellers telling him to stop what he was doing wherever he was and rush back to the informal settlement because the demolition had started.

“I was so lucky that they did not start near my shack. I called my brother who lives a few kilometres away and we packed my belongings in a van and drove off. Even though my shack was demolished and the material [it was made out of] was destroyed, my belongings were saved,” said Mgwaba.

The settlement was established in 2002 and the first demolition took place on 7 May 2019, a day before the general election. Residents claimed they were not given any court order, and they could not understand why the demolition was taking place only now.

Mqapheli Bonono, the provincial chairperson of housing movement Abahlali BaseMjondolo, said: “As usual there was no court order for this eviction and it was therefore an illegal and criminal act by the municipality.”

Bonono suspects the demolition took place because some residents recently joined Abahlali. “We suspect that the gangster administration, eThekwini Municipality, was angered by the shack dwellers’ decision to join our movement,” he said.

The municipality has not responded to questions sent on Monday.

Source: GroundUP by Musa Binda (emphasis by SDLAW*).

*Simon Dippenaar & Associates (SDLAW) are attorneys in Cape Town specialising in evictions. Now operating in Gauteng and Durban. Our specialist eviction lawyers assist both landlords and tenants with the eviction process, over residential, commercial and farm property across South Africa.

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