Lawyers for Human Rights Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Evicted families take “eco-friendly” property developer to court

By | ESTA, Tenants

Reprinted from GroundUp, by Kimberly Mutandiro – 2023-07-26

  • In 2022 the homes of 15 families on Tilly’s Farm in Mogale City were unlawfully demolished by Dutch-South African property company MaxxLiving.
  • People living on the farm claimed land tenure rights and the company was ordered to build them brick houses within 90 days.
  • But a year later, the families are still in temporary structures.
  • Lawyers for Human Rights has applied for a ruling that the developer is in contempt of court. The matter has been reserved.
  • MaxxLiving says it will build the houses but gives no timeframe.

Last year GroundUp reported how the homes of 15 families living on Tilly’s Farm in the Mogale City Municipality had been unlawfully demolished by Dutch-South African property company MaxxLiving.

They took the developer to court, claiming land tenure rights under the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA). In July 2022, the Land Claims Court ordered MaxxLiving to build them brick houses within 90 days.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) had to launch an urgent application in the Land Claims Court (Johannesburg) to compel the developer to provide temporary homes in the meantime.

The families still live in those temporary structures. A total of R100,000 compensation, which the court ordered to be paid by 30 September 2022, was only paid in November 2022. The families say the amount, which was shared by 25 households, was too small to make up for their damaged possessions.

They are sharing just one chemical toilet. They have one water tank, but it runs dry and is sometimes not refilled for a week.

The families say the water tank they depend on is not refilled for a week sometimes

The first toilet provided by MaxxLiving on the left is full. A second toilet was added, shared by about 25 people

“To think that we once had warm homes. They should just build our homes,” said Violet Moloto, who has lived on the farm since 1995.

This is the second winter the residents are enduring since their houses were bulldozed.

Moloto said all her possessions were taken from her at the time of the demolition, and the R4,000 she received in compensation was far too little.

Because they have no electricity, the families have now built additional shacks, where they cook and warm themselves as winter bites.

Wilson Kgatla said his chickens had been killed during the demolition. “The fact that they are taking a long time to build is making the pain even worse.”

“I have no family and the house which was demolished was all I had,” said Wilson Sehlako, who has lived on Tilly’s Farm since 1989. “All l wish is for my house to be built.”

Lerato Katla, who grew up on the farm, says the nine members of her family are crammed into two shacks. The temporary accommodation can be seen behind her.

Contempt of court proceedings

David Dickinson of LHR said the property developer had argued that it had no money at present to build the homes, but had failed to provide proof of this. He said the developer had assets which could be sold.

The families first launched a contempt of court application in August 2022, and Justice Brian Spilg gave the developer until November 2022 to build the houses.

On 18 July 2023, the families went back to court, asking that the property developer be found in contempt of court. Judgment has been reserved.

Tilly’s farm families say they are struggling since their lives were disrupted and their homes bulldozed.

Margaret Makgomola, the first applicant in the case and a resident since 1988, says she has been left feeling broken. As the former preschool teacher at the old farm’s crèche, she’d hoped to open her own crèche at the site.

“The developer promised to leave the crèche standing,” she said.

But the crèche was also demolished. Makgomola sometimes visits the ruins; for her it was much more than just a crèche. Now she has fixed her hopes on at least getting a house as ordered by the court.

Her temporary shack is too small and her possessions are becoming ruined standing out in the open.

“We feel unsafe, because the property developers just do as they please. It’s as if they are above the law and we would be lucky if they even build the houses,” says Makgomola.

Margaret Makgomola, the first applicant in the case and a resident since 1988, says she has been left feeling broken.

Development forges ahead

On 18 July the residents protested outside MaxxLiving premises while the contempt of court hearing was being held in the Land Claims Court.

In a memorandum addressed to Arthur Bezuidenhout, director of MaxxLiving, they complained: “You have made excuses and excuses that you do not have money to rebuild our homes, but we can see with our own eyes that you continue to build luxury homes on the site where our homes once stood.”

MaxxLiving’s flagship “innovative modular wooden, off-grid and CO2-friendly property development” has forged ahead, with a total of 11 new homes and foundations for more, according to court papers.

Bezuidenhout told GroundUp he is committed to building homes for the Tilly’s Farm families and that the residents would still get homes, but he could not give a timeframe.

He said bad publicity had damaged on the project, causing cash constraints.

“We are from the Netherlands, and we are a Dutch-based company aiming to fix with innovative solutions a housing problem in South Africa.”

“We are building homes in wood. It allows us to build fast, with quality and it allows us to build model homes. The purpose of this development is to showcase how we can build quality homes with wood, better than brick and mortar.”

He said the company had engaged with the Minister of Human Settlements.

He said his good intentions had been misunderstood by the families who refused to move to land he had offered them.

“We are against RDP homes and informal settlements. Our model is the future of social homes if the government joins in,” he said.

The MaxxLiving flagship development in Mogale City

Groundup has been awaiting comment from Mogale City Municipality since Monday.

For further information

Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a law firm of specialist eviction lawyers in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. We help landlords and tenants maintain healthy working relationships. Contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or simon@sdlaw.co.za if you need help with tenants’ rights or landlords’ responsibilities.

Further reading:

Groundbreaking eviction order stops unlawful eviction with damages

By | Eviction news, Homeless

Pretoria – In another massive victory for the landless, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria not only ruled that the ousted residents of Monflorah Park could stay in peace on the land they call home in Tembisa, but it was ordered that each resident should receive emergency damages of R1 500.

Community members of Monflorah Park waiting for the green light to live in peace. Picture: Zelda Venter

Acting Judge Anthony Millar further ordered that the City of Ekurhuleni had to launch an investigation into claims by the residents that its metro police (EMPD) allegedly solicited bribes from the residents in order to leave them in peace.

The judge ordered the municipality to, within 30 days, file a report with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the National Prosecuting Authority and with the court regarding the bribery claims.

The mostly woman-headed households earlier turned to the court with the help of Lawyers for Human Rights after they had been “evicted” from the land by the EMPD once again. 

To make matters worse, this time, the EMPD destroyed and burnt all their belongings. This was captured on video by one of the bystanders and handed to court. In the clip, women can be heard begging the officers to not destroy the little they had. They begged to be given time to at least salvage their belongings.

Florah Tjabadi, leader of Monflorah Park in Tembisa. Picture: Zelda Venter

The result of this was that the women, babies and small children had to sleep on the barren ground and ashes after everything was destroyed.

The EMPD denied that the images depicted on the footage depicted this scene and it accused LHR of submitting footage of another scene.

Judge Millar on Monday went on an inspection in loco to the scene, together with the various legal teams, to see for himself how it looked. They compared the pictures to the property and it was confirmed that the footage was indeed of this scene.

Another excuse forwarded by the EMPD for their conduct was that the structures were mostly incomplete and that it thus could not be called home by the residents. Thus, the EMPD said, they did not evict anyone as they did not live there.

But the video footage showed that the structures were not vacant when the EMPD demolished it and that the residents in fact did live there.

Judge Millar declared the evictions unlawful and unconstitutional. He interdicted the municipality and the EMPD from evicting these people until they had obtained a legal eviction order. They were also interdicted from damaging the property of these residents in future.

About 50 mostly armed members of the EMPD earlier this year broke down the shacks and burnt the belongings of the households of Monflorah Park.

This after the residents claimed that they were paying the police bribes as demanded by them,  to be left alone.

Leader of the group, Florah Tjabadi told the court that Tjabadi  shortly after settling there, they were confronted by the EMPD, who agreed to leave them in peace if the community paid them bribes. 

“Out of fear and desperation we succumbed to the demands and I managed to collect R2 000 between the families. I was horrified by having to do this,” she said.

But according to her in spite of this, their homes and belongings were still destroyed.

Source: IOL (emphasis by SDLAW*)

*Cape Town Eviction Attorneys, Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc., is a law firm in Cape Town, of specialised eviction attorneys, assisting both landlords and tenants with the the eviction process. Contact us for eviction help on +27 (0) 86 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

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Township hub traders facing eviction

By | Commercial eviction, Eviction news
If you’ve been served with an eviction notice, don’t panic. You have rights and are protected by PIE. We explain the process and we're here to help.

More than 20 businesses trading from a piece of land in the heart of Olievenhoutbosch’s busiest economic hub face being evicted, allegedly to make way for a national food retailer.

The piece of land, located in the centre of Marabastad’s area of the township, is owned by Tshwane Municipality but a company that claims to have a valid lease on the land has issued notice to the traders to vacate the area as, according to the traders, it plans to set up a major retailer there.

The company, Mweusi Mali Maendeleo, which has Chulumanca Nomlomo as its sole director, wrote to the businesses, requesting them to vacate the property.

The letter also acknowledges that the company does not own the land but merely has a lease with the City of Tshwane.

It also gives the occupants 30 days to voluntarily vacate the premises and, according to a number of businesses City Press spoke to, a barbed wired fence was erected to barricade the area. However, it is alleged that criminals within the community removed the fence within a few weeks. “After the fence was taken, we just returned to our businesses,” said one businessperson who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of being victimised.


Most of the businesses that City Press spoke to have been trading in the area for more than a decade and though they have been harassed for bribes by metro police, they have never been told to vacate the land by the municipality, despite not paying rent.

However, according to the municipality, the company that has leased the land is called Green Valleys Project and has different directors to Mweusi.

Questions sent to Mweusi’s lawyers, as well as Nomlomo, were not replied to by the time of going to print.

Attempts to contact the directors of Green Valleys Project were also unsuccessful.

Tshwane municipality spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the businesses were occupying the land illegally.

“The businesses currently occupying the property are using council property without approval and/or a valid lease agreement and they are therefore illegal occupants. The city is not making any alternative arrangement for these occupants since the use of that property is illegal in the initial instance.

“That is the basis upon which the city is taking steps to evict them. Lawyers for Human Rights has been approached to intervene on their behalf and the city is attending to that aspect through its legal department.

“The property in question has been leased out to Green Valleys Project through an open tender. The said company needs to take occupation of the property and commence with the development as per the award,” Mashigo said.

However, according to Louise du Plessis from Lawyers for Human Rights, the organisation is not handling the matter.

Source: City Press (emphasis by SDLAW*)

*Cape Town Attorneys. Simon Dippenaar & Associates is a Cape Town law firm of specialised eviction attorneys in Cape Town, and now in Durban and Johannesburg, offering expert legal advice and representation to both landlords, and tenants regarding residential, commercial and farm evictions related matters in South Africa. Contact a Cape Town Lawyer on +27 (0) 86 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

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