City manager avoids contempt of court

2013-09-13 00:00

DURBAN city manager Sbu Sithole and the head of the Land Invasions Unit Harvey Mzimela filed opposing affidavits yesterday, thereby avoiding being found in contempt of court.

The high court had ordered the two senior officials to present themselves in court to explain why they shouldn’t be imprisoned after junior officials continued demolishing shacks in Cato Crest in violation of a court order earlier this month.

Yesterday, the matter was adjourned to allow lawyers of the Cato Crest informal settlement to file a responding affidavit.

The court had granted a rule nisi (an interim order to be confirmed at a later date) that compelled Sithole and Mzimela to appear in court yesterday to explain why they should not be imprisoned for 30 days for allowing illegal evictions to continue at Cato Crest.

Residents’ attorney Trudie Nichols from Nichols Attorneys said the matter would be heard after they filed their responding affidavit. “The municipal manager and the head of the Land Invasions Unit responded in court,” she said.

In August, the court granted the residents of Cato Crest informal settlement an order preventing the municipality from demolishing their homes without a court order. Abahlali baseMjondolo and residents of the informal settlement have been going to court seeking orders to stop the city from demolishing their homes.

Nichols said they have been granted four court orders preventing the city from going ahead with the demolitions.

The demolition of shack dwellers’ homes at the beginning of the month was regarded as being in violation of an undertaking made to the high court that the city would halt evictions pending the finalisation of the application for a final order.

Municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said: “We never touched the shacks that were protected by the court order. We noted where people were erecting new structures.”

A week ago, the court order further directed the municipality to construct “temporary habitable dwellings that afford shelter, privacy and amenities at least equivalent to those destroyed” for the residents whose shacks were demolished at the beginning of the month.

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