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Eviction news Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

More than 600 refugees, asylum seekers living in squalor is not an emergency – City of Cape Town

By | Eviction news, Evictions, Homeless

Reprinted from News 24, by Jan Gerber. First published 13 December, 2019.

The City of Cape Town does not think that more than 600 people living in squalor in a church on Greenmarket Square constitutes an emergency.

This emerged during arguments in the City’s court application for an urgent interdict against foreign nationals living in the Central Methodist Mision church on Greenmarket Square.

The more than 600 foreign nationals sought refuge in the church after police forcefully dispersed a sit-in protest near the offices of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in October. They want the UNHCR to remove them from South Africa because of the xenophobic attacks.

On Monday, the City described the recent “sit-in” of refugees and asylum seekers in Greenmarket Square as a lawless action, a crisis and a situation which was damaging to tourism and reputation.

The City wanted an order prohibiting the sit-in and the flouting of health and safety by-laws, alleging that the group was affecting business in the area.

It also alleged that people had urinated and defecated in the streets, cooked over open fires, washed clothes and bathed around the church area, contributing to fire risks.

But Judge Kate Savage said everyone’s rights needed to be balanced and that those involved needed to find “an overarching solution”.

She ordered that a meeting be held between the parties, including the City, the Department of Home Affairs and the police.

However, when the matter was heard again on Friday, Savage was informed that a solution could not be reached.

“My Lady, it seems as if there is a deadlock,” advocate Adiel Nacerodien, for the City, told Judge Savage.

‘Human dignity has no nationality’

The sticking point proved to be finding alternative accommodation for the refugee and asylum seekers.

Nacerodien said the housing code prescribed that alternative housing could only be provided for evictions and homelessness or in cases of emergencies, such as fires and floods.

Advocate Seth Nthai, for the Department of Home Affairs, said he was “surprised by the stance of the City of Cape Town”.

He said they had a responsibility to provide housing and a safe environment.

“Human dignity has no nationality, it is inherent in all people,” he said.

Nthai also said the department was ready to begin with the verification of the refugees’ and asylum seekers’ identification, which would take about five days.

However, they couldn’t do it under the circumstances in which the refugees and asylum seekers were currently living.

The courtroom was packed with refugees and asylum seekers, most of them with tired, despondent expressions on their faces.

Judge Savage said it was an “untenable situation” that they were staying where they are.

Their spokesperson Jean-Pierre Balous told the court that they were about 500 refugees and asylum seekers, 90 undocumented foreign nationals, 68 asylum seekers who had lost their papers, and 268 children.

“If a solution can be found where people are treated as human beings…” he said.

Savage asked Nacerodien why it wasn’t an emergency.

“We all know this is a protest, my Lady,” he said.

He likened it to a situation of a hunger strike, saying if people refused to eat, they gave up their right to food.

“It is not an emergency in terms of the housing code,” he said.

“Is it not an overly technical approach?” Savage responded.

‘They have homes to go to’

Nacerodien said accommodation was a scarce resource and was supposed to be dealt with in an extraordinary situation.

“They’re not at risk of homelessness. They have homes to go to,” he said, while many in the public gallery shook their heads.

Savage said this allowed a situation where there was a “worrying lack of human rights”.

Nacerodien said that providing accommodation to refugees and asylum seekers was a core function of the Department of Home Affairs.

Balous disputed that the refugees had homes to go to, adding that they were homeless.

He said they couldn’t be prohibited from making fires, because they didn’t have another way to cook their food, and they didn’t have ablution facilities. He said the City had instructed neighbouring business not to allow them to use their bathrooms or provide them with water.

He also disputed that the refugees had harassed tourists and members of the public. Judge Savage said she viewed the situation as an emergency.

She asked Nacerodien if the City had accommodation available.

‘Implied eviction’

He said he would have to take instructions on it, and Judge Savage adjourned the court for an hour.

After the adjournment, Nacerodien said: “At the moment, the City is finding great difficulty in finding alternative housing.”

He said there had been an earlier offer from Gift of the Givers to provide the refugees and asylum seekers food, but he didn’t know if this offer still stood.

He said he could not get “firm instructions” from the City on providing ablutions.

Judge Savage said if she were to grant the City’s proposed order, it would be an “implied eviction”, as people couldn’t live without food or ablutions.

“What the applicant seeks is upholding the rule of law,” Nacerodien said.

“It was never the intention to create an eviction order by the backdoor.”

Judge Savage said: “It is of course very frustrating for the court to be faced by so intractable a situation.”

“We are not living there because we are happy with the conditions,” Balous said.

Judge Savage said they were back to where they were on Monday.

She asked Balous if he would like to file papers responding to the claims that they had harassed the public, to which he agreed.

“I remain of the firm view that this intractable situation must be resolved,” she said.

She also said she was “most dissatisfied” with the state of affairs.

Counsel, Balous and Judge Savage agreed in chambers to postpone the matter to January 22. Balous must file his papers by December 27.

Further reading:

Gauteng government in court over land invasions

Court declares shack eviction unlawful

Land occupation eviction process to come under spotlight

Evicting the homeless – municipality wrong

Red Ants back on the eviction march as court lifts suspension

By | Eviction news, Eviction notice, Eviction orders

The Red Ants will be back on the march after their suspension, regarding evictions and demolitions, was lifted partly on the grounds of protecting the jobs of up to 12 000 employees, the company said.

The Red Ants Security Relocation and Eviction Services’ right to undertake these operations as well as guard duty was suspended by the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA) on June 6 and 7 after complaints over four of its operations – one being the controversial Alexandra demolitions. 

On May 31, 2019, the company moved to demolish about 80 homes in Setshwetla, Alexandra, which the City of Johannesburg had considered unsafe because they were built too close to a river. At the time, two bonded houses were set alight in retaliation.

Questions were raised over who had ordered the demolitions.

The City later clarified that the instruction had come from the Johannesburg Metro Police Department. The demolitions were swiftly followed by the #AlexShutdown protests after residents complained that problems in the area were being ignored.

There were also evictions in the Ramaphosa informal settlement in Vereeniging, Gauteng, on April 10, 2019, Lenasia South on September 22, 2017 and Ivory Park in Tembisa on May 22, 2017.

On September 22, 2017, two people were killed as the Red Ants tried to clear land in Lenasia South

In a statement at the time, they denied being responsible for the deaths, saying residents had stoned their employees, which resulted in some of them being injured. 

The Red Ants were also accused of allowing non-security officers to demolish property without a court order, and in the absence of a Sheriff of the Court.

They were accused of theft, malicious damage to property, grievous bodily harm and unlawfully firing a weapon in a public area.

Their name was added to a long list of suspended companies posted on PSiRA’s website.

However, the company brought a High Court application against the PSiRA to lift the suspension so that they could continue to work. It, however, opposed the application. 

On October 19, the court ruled that the company be allowed to continue its work after hearing that it had been issued a new PSiRA certificate for the period September 2019 to 2020, according to a court order News24 has seen.

The court also noted up to 12 000 jobs at the company were on the line, and that lawyers were beginning to demand their money back regarding evictions and demolitions that had not taken place as expected.

The court found that courts themselves were starting to look bad because they were issuing eviction orders that could not be carried out. The sheriffs were also taking flak for not executing the orders and getting the Red Ants in.

Usually the person applying for the eviction pays for the Red Ants’ services, and it can run into the hundreds of thousands of rand to evict people from large properties, such as open land or a large block of flats.

“Given the severely restrained economic climate in South Africa, where thousands of people are retrenched every month and millions are unemployed, it is clear to me that the factors of irreparable harm and balance of convenience favour the applicants,” the judgment read.

It noted there were sheriffs with nine “long-overdue evictions” and 22 “long-overdue removals” that still needed to be executed.

The Red Ants are also the sole provider to 11 municipalities to safekeep strategic and key state assets as well as government-owned land, which includes key points.

The PSiRA granted the Red Ants permission to continue with security services only when they questioned the suspension, and they had to apply on a case-by-case basis to undertake evictions and demolitions.

In the judgment, it was stated that they were turned down regarding permission for several orders granted in Simon’s Town, Cape Town. 

“In the circumstances, we are therefore lawfully permitted to carry out operations as a security service provider which include evictions, demolitions, and the like,” a statement from the Red Ants said.

Comment from the PSiRA was not immediately available, and will be added when received.

Originally featured on News24

*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.

Further reading:

Mob Eviction in Alexandra

Court Declares Shack Eviction Unlawful

Durban Evictions

Johannesburg Shacks Demolished by Red Ants

Gauteng Government in Court over Land Invasions

Red Ants Continue to Disregard Due Process of Law

Police and Developers Blame Each Other

‘Mob eviction’ in Alexandra leaves family terrified after husband ‘hit with axe’

By | Eviction news, Evictions
Gibson Mzizi, Melissa Mzizi's husband, was attacked with an ax by a mob who forcefully evicted the family in Alexandra.

Gibson Mzizi, Melissa Mzizi’s husband, was attacked with an axe by a mob who forcefully evicted the family in Alexandra. (Chris Yelland)

An Alexandra resident, Melissa Mzizi, says the police are doing little to help her get her family’s RDP house back after a group of 40 people allegedly attacked her husband and occupied their home.

On Saturday, the group reportedly attacked the family in an attempt to kick them out of the home. Mzizi’s husband was taken to hospital after he was hit in the head with an axe.

Alexandra police have since arrested five people. The rest remain in the house.

Reprinted from News 24. By Azarrah Karrim 2019-09-23

If you have been wrongfully evicted or are experiencing harassment in your home, contact us for help. Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. (aka SDLAW) is a law firm in Cape Town, now offering services in Johannesburg and Durban. We are expert eviction attorneys with deep experience in rental property and eviction law, and we uphold the rights of both parties without bias. Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za to discuss your case in confidence.

Further reading:

R300,000 to be rid of squatters on his property

Family live on busy roadside for three weeks after eviction from wine farm

SDLAW acts for successful Heathfield eviction

Land occupation processes to come under spotlight in Vrygrond case

Evicted families stuck in Paarl caravan park for a year