Eviction news Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

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.

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– Founder, Attorney Simon David Dippenaar

Evicting the homeless: Municipality wrong

By | Eviction news

By BONGANI NKOSI, reposted/amended by Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc.*

Evicting the homeless
Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg | Evicting the homeless- A court has delivered a scathing judgment against the City of Joburg for the unconstitutional, “disrespectful and demeaning” manner in which its police officers removed homeless people living underneath a bridge in the CBD.

The city has been ordered to pay the group of about 27 homeless people R1500 each, totalling R40500.

Though it could not declare the removal an eviction because no structures were destroyed, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled that the officers acted unlawfully by removing and destroying property belonging to the homeless group.

The group, which included men and women, had made a home for themselves on a traffic island under the R31 highway bridge on End Street.

Most of them lived from collecting recyclable material, making between R350 and R1000 a month.

Supported by Lawyers for Human Rights, they approached the SCA to appeal an earlier ruling by the South Gauteng High Court that went in favour of the city.

Officers of the Joburg metro police department descended on the traffic island in a convoy of official vehicles on February 1, 2017 and confiscated their belongings.

These included cardboard boxes, blankets, identity documents, mattresses, clothes and food.

“They hurled insults at the applicants, and kicked and sprayed some of them with pepper spray in a bid to drive them away from the location,” Judge Mandisa Maya said in the ruling delivered yesterday.

“They then loaded all the applicants’ belongings on the trucks and took them away.”

The operation, described by officials as a clean-up, was unconstitutional and unlawful, Judge Maya ruled.

“What is clear however, is that the confiscation and destruction of the applicants’ property was a patent, arbitrary deprivation thereof and a breach of their right to privacy enshrined in section 14(c) of the constitution, ‘which includes the right not to have their possessions seized’.

“The conduct of the city personnel was not only a violation of the applicants’ property rights in their belongings, but also disrespectful and demeaning.

“This obviously caused them distress and was a breach of their right to have their inherent dignity respected and protected.

“In the circumstances, the city’s conduct must be declared inconsistent with the constitution and therefore unlawful,” Judge Maya said.

The court saw the footage of the operation taken by activist Nigel Branken. It showed him remonstrating against the removal of the homeless people’s possessions.

One officer replied to Branken that: “These people are occupying a space which is not theirs.”

“The footage also showed the officials indiscriminately gathering and throwing mattresses, blankets, bulging suitcases, bags and rucksacks into a truck without checking their contents,” Judge Maya said.

In addition to declaring the police’s conduct unconstitutional, the judge ordered the city to pay the affected people R1500 as compensation for their destroyed property.

“The amount of R1500 for each applicant, R40500, is not a large sum of money. But, in my view, it constitutes appropriate relief in the specific circumstances of this case.

“It will vindicate the constitution and protect the applicants and others similarly situated against violations of their rights to dignity and property,” the judge said.

The city could not comment on the matter.

Originally featured on: The Star / IOL

Further reading:

*Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. are a firm of specialised eviction lawyers based in Cape Town and Gauteng, operating nationally.

Battlegrounds: Between the land and the law

By | Eviction news, Farm evictions

Originally published at ParlyBeat (emphasis and linking by Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc.*)

Farm evictions
Source ParlyBeat

“The plight of a farm-dweller family evicted from their home on a prominent wine farm in Paarl this week put the spotlight back on the growing tension between the legality and morality question relating to farm evictions. This eviction followed days after President Cyril Ramaphosa assured farmworkers in Citrusdal that his party would support farmworkers in their fight against evictions and oppression.

Days later, Alfred May and his family found themselves out on the street with all his belongings when the sheriff of the court enforced an eviction order. According to the organisation Women on Farms Project (WFP), May worked on the farm for 28 years until his employment was terminated. The eviction also sparked isolated protests by some farmworkers. Yet, according to a statement the farm owners issued, May was fired in 2008 because he sold liquor illegally on the wine farm. He had been asked to vacate the premises, but he refused. The owners insisted they followed due process with court rules and legislation, and thus acted within their rights. “The eviction of the occupiers did not occur abruptly. It was the culmination of a nearly decade-long process at a large financial cost and prejudice to the farm,” the statement read. 

Co-director of WFP Carmen Louw told Parlybeat the issue of tenure security is closely linked to broader land and agrarian reform. “Current legal instruments such as Esta (Extention of Security of Tenure Act) give farmworkers limited protection, and farmers learned how to use these loopholes in legislation. They only need to provide accommodation to farmworkers whilst they are in their employ and when you reach long-term occupier status,” Louw explained. “What we see now is farm dwellers who lose their employment before they reach long-term occupier status, as is the case with May’s eviction.” A long-term occupier refers to a person who is older than 60 and who has lived on the farm for 10 years, or someone who became disabled or sick while employed on the farm. 

Louw explained that farmworker women are often at an even greater disadvantage. “Historically women were not employed on farms, so they never qualified for tenure security in their own right. As a result, widows are evicted “legally”, as was the case on a farm in Rawsonville earlier.” Louw said legal processes also mean very little if poor farm dwellers who live far away from courts cannot access these courts, or are unable to read or understand legal documents. WFP director Colette Solomon during a recent seminar at the University of the Western Cape said laws are well intended, but farmers are well-resourced in terms of legal representation. “Farmworkers have a moral and economic claim to the land,” she insisted. “One of the greatest perversions in South Africa is that those who produce our food often go to bed hungry.” Solomon referred to a “systematic backlash by farmers over the land expropriation issue”. Says Solomon: “What we see is increasing evictions and unfair dismissals.” Solomon said the organisation also observed “constructive evictions”. She explained that farmers often make living and working conditions unbearable to force farmworkers from farms. This may include cutting off water and electricity and locking doors.

When approached for comment, farmer representative body Agri Western Cape asked for details of evictions to investigate and said they cannot comment on allegations. According to Solomon, however, there are more than 1 000 eviction cases on the court roll for the Drakenstein area. This include towns like Paarl and Wellington. It is estimated that if granted, these eviction court orders will affect about 20 000 farmworkers and families living on farms. May was likely part of these statistics. WFP deals with an average of 35 tenure-related cases per year. Last year the organisation dealt with almost 100 matters affecting almost 500 farm dwellers.

Director of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas) Prof Andries du Toit said there are clearly problems with the legal framework and with the implementation of the current law. “However, the legality of the issue aside, a big problem is that evictions contribute to the marginalisation of the poor and vulnerable population, who join the large masses of landless and unemployed people seeking to survive on the edges of the urban economy.” Du Toit labelled it as a “clear betrayal of the promise of our Constitution”. “Processes such as this end up excluding large numbers of people from any kind of meaningful citizenship, relegating them to an impoverished and insecure existence on the margins of a wealthy society.  Not only does this have potential destabilising political consequences in the long term, but it’s also not in accord with our values as a society.””

*Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. are a law firm of specialised eviction lawyers in South Africa.

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