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Durban eviction Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Court clears city on informal settlement evictions amid lockdown

By | Eviction news, Eviction orders, Homeless

By Karen Singh

Durban – eThekwini Municipality welcomed the decision by the Durban High Court to dismiss Abahlali BaseMjondolo’s application to stop evictions in informal settlements during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Durban eviction lawyers

Members and supporters of Abahlali baseMjondolo movement SA Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

Evictions have been ongoing at the Ekuphumeleni settlement in Mariannhill and the Azania settlement in Cato Manor over the last few weeks.

This is despite calls by the shack dwellers movement for the city to place a moratorium on evictions during the 21-day lockdown.

The municipality said they were pleased with the judgment, saying the application was full of disinformation which had sought to tarnish the city’s image.

Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the Metro Police had, on numerous occasions, urged Abahlali to refrain from encouraging and condoning land invasions. He said land invasions were rife in the city, and they were a hindrance to much-needed service delivery.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said he was happy the municipality had been vindicated by the court.

However, he said it was unfortunate that while the country was battling the spread of Covid-19, some groupings were trying to capitalise on the situation.

Kaunda urged those involved to respect the laws of the country.

“As this sphere of government, we will unwaveringly clamp down on any unlawful conduct, including land invasion,” he said.

Kaunda said resources had been mobilised to provide shelter for over 4000 homeless people across the city.

He said the city had ensured that they met the needs of all residents living in informal settlements, hostels and transit camps to protect them against contracting the virus.

“Why would we then demolish shacks that are occupied by the poorest of the poor? We still maintain that shacks that were demolished recently, were unoccupied, some of which were partially built, and we acted within the ambit of the law,” said Kaunda.

He said against all odds, the city would eventually restore the dignity of all residents in informal settlements whether affiliated to Abahlali or not.

“Residents are called upon to report to the authorities without fail, any signs of land invasion, where they rear their ugly heads,” said Mayisela.

Abahlali leader S’bu Zikode said they were disappointed by the outcome of the application, and were worried about what would happen as the lockdown continues.

“People are really scared. They don’t know what will happen tonight, or tomorrow, or the next day. We all fear that there will be more violence,” said Zikode.

He said the situation they suddenly found themselves in was very uncertain, as it was unusual not to win an application for an interdict against evictions.

Zikode said the judge was not convinced that the shacks were occupied despite photographs showing beds, mattresses and other furniture scattered between destroyed shacks.

“We cannot accept that people can be subjected to state violence or made homeless under any circumstances, but state violence and evictions became particularly urgent during this time of a worldwide health crisis in which impoverished people are most at risk,” said Zikode.

Zikode said Abahlali would focus all their energy on finding ways to keep organising in the face of violence from a “gangster” municipality.

Source: IOL (emphasis by SD Law*)

* SD Law is a law firm of specialised Durban eviction attorneys. Contact us at sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za for help with Durban evictions.

Further reading:

Covid-19: Shackdwellers lose court case to stop demolitions

By | Eviction news

The Durban High Court dismissed Abahlali baseMjondolo’s application to interdict the City from continuing with ongoing shack demolitions in Ekuphumeleleni and Azania Informal Settlemnets. Photo: Nokulunga Majola

Covid-19 does not mean that there must be a holiday in respecting the laws of the country, says Durban mayor.

First published by GroundUp

Shackdweller movement Abahlali baseMjondolo failed to secure an interdict against the Ethekwini Municipality to stop what it says are illegal evictions.

Abahlali went to the Durban High Court on Tuesday saying the City had violently evicted residents of Ekuphumeleleni in Marianhill and Azania in Cato Manor.

The Covid-19 lockdown regulations put a halt to any evictions even if there is a court order. However, the City is still empowered to halt “land invasions” and to demolish “unoccupied shacks”, which is what the City’s land invasion unit claims it was doing when it destroyed shacks in the two settlements.

But Abahlali says this is the City’s “routine response”, and over the years the movement has won numerous cases by collecting detailed evidence in the form of photographs and affidavits proving long term residence in shacks that were demolished.

According to the movement, on Monday Judge Mohini Moodley asked both parties to discuss the matter and find solutions on their own.

Abahlali wanted to rebuild shacks. The City refused. It offered alternative accommodation in emergency camps set up for homeless people during the lockdown.

But Abahlali movement said its members did not want to be moved to camps as there was no guarantee that they would be able to return to the land where they are part of a community, and close to their employment and the schools their children attend.

They were also worried about conditions in the camps, including the difficulty of social distancing and the high percentage of people with serious untreated addiction issues.

“Some of the women who had been evicted did not feel that these camps would be safe for them and their children,” said Abahlali’s deputy president Mqapheli Bonono in a statement.

Abahlali’s legal team argued that the City’s own evidence showed that shacks were occupied prior to the evictions: “The photographs that we have shared of the evictions, which can be seen on our Facebook page, clearly show beds, mattresses, other furniture and a fridge amidst the remains of the shacks that were destroyed.”

However, Judge Moodley was not convinced.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the matter was “ laden with disinformation aimed at ruining the City’s image”.

“Covid-19 does not mean that there must be a holiday in respecting the laws of the country … We are a caring municipality and have mobilised resources to provide shelter to more than 4,000 homeless people.”

“Over and above that, we have ensured that we meet the needs of our residents living in informal settlements, hostels and transit camps to protect them against contracting this lethal virus. Why would we demolish shacks that are occupied by the poorest of the poor?” said Kaunda.

“People are really scared,” said Bonono. “They don’t know what will happen tonight, tomorrow or the next day. We all fear that there will be more violence. The situation in which we have suddenly found ourselves in is very uncertain. In this lockdown, we cannot use the streets or the courts in the way that we have done so successfully during 15 years of struggle against evictions.”

“State violence and evictions became particularly urgent during this time of worldwide health crisis in which impoverished people are most at risk,” he said. DM (emphasis by SD Law*)

* SD Law aka Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc., is a law firm of specialised eviction lawyers in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Contact one of our professional eviction lawyers for help with the eviction process.