Unlawful evictions Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

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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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

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