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‘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.

eviction procedures. eviction lawyers

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

Get help from an eviction lawyer

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 families stuck in Paarl caravan park for a year

By | Eviction news, Farm evictions, Uncategorized

About 52 families have been living in green canvas tents for more than a year at New Orleans camping site in Paarl South, GroundUp reports. 

They were evicted from farms in the surrounding Cape Winelands, including Simondium and Wellington.

The Drakenstein Municipality has offered the campsite as emergency accommodation, but is unable to say when the families can be moved to suitable accommodation.

Evictions in the broader Cape Winelands and in Drakenstein Municipality have created a crisis. At least 20 000 people are at risk of eviction on Drakenstein farms. 

“When the day-campers leave, we go and check for a piece of meat or other leftovers so our children have something to eat,” said Elsabe Goeieman, one of the people living in the caravan park.

“Sometimes they [day visitors] feel sorry for us and give us their leftover foods.”

Eviction

Her family, together with most of the families in the park, were moved to the New Orleans camp after being evicted from a farm in Simondium known as Die Blou Huis on April 11, 2018.

GroundUp met Goeieman sitting outside on a weathered couch with her daughter and three other residents.

“Most of us are unemployed now because we used to work seasonally on farms around Simondium. We are really struggling… but what can we do?” she said.

Goeieman and her husband share a tent with their four children and two-month-old grandchild.

Inside, the family have placed makeshift partitions of plastic sheeting and material.

“It gets so hot inside in summer, so we would rather sit outside with the small baby. In winter, the wind blows through the holes in the tents and the tents flood when it rains and our things get damaged … There are also a few people with TB and living in tents doesn’t help,” she said.

Goeieman said that since moving to the park, she had not been able to find a school for her 15-year-old daughter, Michelle. Michelle’s old school was about eight kilometres away from where they lived, and she would walk to school. She was forced to drop out a few weeks after they moved to the park.

Goeieman said that for months after being moved to the park, the children stayed home. Now, the younger children attend New Orleans Primary School, just a stone’s throw away from the park.

“We moved here in April, so we struggled to get our children into schools. The younger children got places, but not all the high schoolers. My child would love to go back, but when I went in January, no one could take her,” said Goeieman.

When the group were first moved to the park, Goeieman said, they were told the tents were temporary and they would be moved to houses within months.

Evicted families in New Orleans camp

Elsabe Goeieman and her husband having been sharing a tent with their four children and two-month-old grandchild for a year, since being evicted from a farm in Simondium. 

“Drakenstein [Municipality] said they would build us Nutec [fibre cement board] houses, but we are still waiting. We have no idea when we will move… The only upside to living here is that we have electricity and running water,” she said.

The group shares the park public toilets with day-campers.

A man living in the park, who identified himself only as Mr Scheepers, said: “Winters are a problem for us… Many of the tents blew over last year and we had to help people in the middle of the night put them back up. So imagine what will happen this winter.”

Billy Claasen of the Rural Farm Workers Development Organisation said the situation was unacceptable. “The sewerage system is under severe pressure due to the influx of people there. People complain about the conditions there and no one listens.”

Claasen accused the municipality of using the park as a “dumping ground” for people evicted from surrounding areas instead of providing “dignified” accommodation.

Gerald Esau, director of Community Services at Drakenstein Municipality, said its emergency housing plans had been brought to a halt by opposition from the community.

“An emergency housing project with improved basic services is being constructed in an area called Schoongezicht. Unfortunately, it was recently invaded by the surrounding community who refuse that the evicted people be accommodated accommodated there,” he said.

New Orleans

The Drakenstein Municipality has offered the New Orleans campsite as emergency accommodation for people evicted from farms but it is unclear when the families can be moved to suitable accommodation.

“Drakenstein Municipality is providing 24-square-metre Nutec structures to the families, but cannot provide a time frame as we are not sure how long the negotiations with the surrounding community will take,” said Esau.

Last month, a family of 11 who were evicted from the Windmeul Kelder wine farm, repeatedly rejected the municipality’s offer to house them at the caravan park. The building offered to them, which was being used as a washroom, is not big enough to house them and their belongings. The family is currently sitting by the R44 roadside.

Source: NEWS24 (emphasis by SDLAW*)

*Cape Town Attorneys, Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. is a Cape Town law firm with offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, offering specialised eviction legal services to landlords and tenants regarding residential, commercial and farm evictions.

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