[imagesource: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach]
Footage of the forced removal of a naked man, Bulelani Qholani (above on the left), from his shack in Khayelitsha led to a massive outcry across the country.
After that footage was widely shared, the City of Cape Town began an investigation, eventually announcing that it was in the process of suspending the officers involved.
The City said that the initial reason for the removal is that the land where the shack was erected belongs to them, and efforts to prevent illegal occupation have been ongoing.
Qholani said that he would open a case against the City and the law enforcement officials, while Mayor Dan Plato accused him of staging the incident “to put the City of Cape Town in a bad light”.
An urgent application was brought before the Western Cape High Court to stop the City of Cape Town, on behalf of Qholani and others evicted in Hangberg, Hout Bay, and Kommetjie Location in Ocean View, from evicting people who occupied land during the lockdown without permission.
The Western Cape High Court granted the urgent interdict, stopping evictions. The judgement is now being studied, and the City believes that it oversteps the Constitution and the Prevention from Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.
The Citizen reports that the judgment by judges Yasmin Meer and Rosheni Allie has set out conditions the City and law enforcement must adhere to.
The City of Cape Town, its Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU), and any private contractors appointed by the City to do evictions or dismantle dwellings, are interdicted and restrained from evicting people from structures, whether occupied or unoccupied throughout the City metropole without a court order.
Informal structures include tents, huts and shacks.
If the City receives a court order for an eviction, it is required to enforce the eviction in a way that respects the dignity of those being evicted.
…The City is interdicted and restrained from considering, adjudicating and awarding any bids or tenders received in response to Tender 308S/2019/20 “Demolition of illegal and informal structures in the City of Cape Town”.
The City is also required to pay R2 000 to each person, on a list of people who live on Erf 544, Portion 1 in Mfuleni, a provincial nature reserve, who sued for damages for personal property lost in evictions.
The Mayco member for human settlements, Malusi Booi told News24 that “the City had adhered to the law regarding evictions”.
Mayor Dan Plato expressed fears when he said in a statement that the judgement would “open the floodgates illegal land invasions, leading to a breakdown in law and order”.
You can read a comprehensive breakdown of the judgement, here.
The next stage of the case will be heard in October.
The SA Human Rights Commission plans on arguing that the City should provide temporary accommodation for those evicted in terms of a court order.
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