‘CoCT acting on land invasion, NOT evicting people during lockdown’

12 April 2020 10:49 AM

The City of Cape Town vehemently denies it is contravening lockdown regulations, after the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) on Saturday posted footage of law enforcement officials removing people from a piece of land in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.

In an article by GroundUp, published on News24, a community leader says former backyarders moved onto the land in desperation because they can’t pay rent, with lockdown restricting the ways they used to earn a living.

SJC general secretary Axolile Notywala maintains that officials did not identify themselves and that the City does not have a court order for the removals.

Notywala also posted a video which he says shows himself and another man being pepper sprayed inside a van after their arrest.

According to the law they must speak to residents and tell them to remove the structures that they say were unfinished, although some people had been living there for quite some time now… A number of people started staying there late last year in September… a number said they had been there for about two weeks now…

Axolile Notywala, General secretary – Social Justice Coalition

While they were telling residents to go into their homes and stay there Notywala says, the City’s law enforcement officers arrived and went straight ahead with demolishing the structures.

He draws a distinction between what’s legally defined as unlawful occupiers and the term “illegal“.

What is illegal in terms of the PIE Act is an eviction that is done without a court order, and in our understanding the City has an interdict and has used interdicts in many evictions. The City is supposed to protect its own land and apparently this interdict is from 2018 and so a lot of people wouldn’t even know about that.

Axolile Notywala, General secretary – Social Justice Coalition

They should stop saying that people are illegally invading – people are unlawfully occupying land, that’s what the law says.

Axolile Notywala, General secretary – Social Justice Coalition

In our view, the people that were breaking the law were the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement officers. We have never encouraged people to occupy land. What we’re saying is that if and when that happens, everyone must follow the law.

Axolile Notywala, General secretary – Social Justice Coalition

Responding to the allegations, Mayco Member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi vehemently denies the SJC’s assertion that some people had been on the land since 2019, saying they occupied the land on Wednesday.

He notes there is a moratorium on evictions during the lockdown period but not on action over land invasions.

That’s why even the High Court in Durban has also given the Ethekweni municipality the right to go and remove illegal structures. We are working within the parameters of the law

Malusi Booi, Mayco Member for Human Settlements – CoCT

These people are the ones who are contravening the law because they were supposed to stay where they were up until the lockdown is lifted… They invaded the land this week, during the lockdown period.

Malusi Booi, Mayco Member for Human Settlements – CoCT

The landlords are the ones evicting people. The City of Cape Town is not evicting people… They [landlords] are the ones who are in the wrong. Now they’ve led people to contravene the law.

Malusi Booi, Mayco Member for Human Settlements – CoCT

They [backyarders] must indicate to us as government who is evicting them so that action can be taken against those people… Evictions are prohibited.

Malusi Booi, Mayco Member for Human Settlements – CoCT

Booi, Mayco says the City is removing the structures and people will have to go back to where they were living.

He adds that the City is busy with discussions at various levels to address overcrowding.

Listen to the two arguments in the audio below:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : [VIDEO] ‘CoCT acting on land invasion, NOT evicting people during lockdown’

Source: 702 (emphasis by SD Law*)

* SD Law, aka Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc., is a law firm, operating nation wide, of specialised eviction attorneys. Contact SD Law for help with the eviction process, eviction notices, evicting a tenant, or defending against an illegal eviction.



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