City of Johannesburg loses eviction case

2011-12-01 19:02

Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg must provide emergency housing for 86 people to be evicted from a building earmarked for redevelopment in Berea, according to a judgment handed down on Thursday.

The Constitutional Court also found the city's housing policy was inconsistent with its housing obligation, and unconstitutional because it did not provide accommodation for people in an emergency situation.

It rejected the city's argument that even if it did have an obligation to provide temporary accommodation in such cases, it did not have the means to do so.

"The court was not persuaded that the city did not have sufficient resources to provide accommodation for the occupiers, holding that the city had wrongly budgeted on the basis that it was not obliged to provide them with emergency housing."

The judgment dealt with when it would be just and equitable under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE) to evict unlawful occupiers from private property.

It was common cause that the occupiers of the building were unlawful.

But they had been living in the building in abysmal conditions for a long time, and had paid rent, although no record of the rent to the present owner through a third party could be found.

Owners of the property, Blue Moonlight, bought the property in 2004 but met resistance when it wanted to redevelop it. The building was also a fire risk.

The occupants, who brought in around just over R1 000 per household, did not want to move because they would be homeless and away from their sources of income.

They tried to raise the matter with the housing tribunal, but eventually the issue went to court.

The city must, by April 1 2012, provide the occupiers whose names are on a list filed on April 30 2008, with temporary accommodation as near as possible to the Berea property.

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