Cape Town – The Legal Resource Centre (LRC) and EFF have questioned whether the City acted lawfully when carrying out evictions and shack demolitions during the nationwide lockdown.
The Western Cape High Court heard the application, brought by the LRC, housing advocacy group Housing Assembly and the SA Human Rights Commission.
For the applicants, advocate Norman Arendse told the court: “There is no policy or directions to determine whether a structure is occupied or not. It’s a problem. We’re dealing with people’s human rights. It becomes necessary in this case to grant an interdict.”
The LRC wants the court to declare the conduct of the City unlawful where it has demolished informal dwellings and structures in Ocean View, Kommetjie and Ethembeni in Khayelitsha.
The EFF, which has also joined the application, want the City to return the structures that were demolished or compensate the residents whose homes were demolished.
EFF advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said: “We are concerned with all levels of the State of Disaster, not a specific one. And also materials confiscated should be returned or residents given equivalent material or monetary compensation of R2000 each. We have six instances where the City carried out evictions without a court order. There can be no unlawful occupiers in unoccupied structures.
“This must have been the removal of people from a structure.”
The LRC also wants the court to have the City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit be declared unconstitutional and unlawful. The City recently published a tender calling for bids from private companies to demolish illegal informal structures.
City advocate Sean Rosenberg said: “Land invasions have catastrophic consequences for thousands of people who are not being heard by this court. We are not here to articulate our own voice; we represent the thousands and thousands of poor people who are affected by this.” On the issue of the tender, Rosenberg argued that the City is within its mandate and that the tender is not unlawful.
“The purpose of the tender is for manpower and resources purposes. The tender is merely to carry out dismantling operations which are unlawful; there is no harm on others. The City is entitled to dismantle whether it is with a court order. Its hard to see why it would be unlawful is there any reason to grant an interim interdict,” he said.
The case continues today.