Buy occupied private land to avoid second Marikana, court hears

2017-02-08 17:25
Marikana informal settlement residents at the Western Cape High Court (Jenni Evans, News24)

Marikana informal settlement residents at the Western Cape High Court (Jenni Evans, News24)

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WATCH: Marikana township in CT protest against evictions

2015-08-12 12:52

Community members from Marikana township near Philippi, Cape Town, protested outside the Cape Town High Court on Wednesday morning in response to the latest threat of land evictions by the City of Cape Town. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town - A group of private land owners in Cape Town want the government to buy them out of the sprawling settlement of Marikana, because evicting 60 000 people would be disastrous, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

“The real Marikana would turn into a complete sideshow compared to what would happen,” said Peter Hodes, SC for the private owners of the erven in Delft East.

They include German immigrant Manfred Stock; a woman who has lived there for 50 years, Iris Fischer; and a number of private companies.

Judge Chantel Fortuin allowed extra benches to be brought into the court to accommodate about 80 Marikana residents. One was symbolically dressed in a green blanket in memory of slain rock drill operator Mgcineni “Mambush” Noki. He was one of 34 people killed in a confrontation with police during a miners’ strike in Marikana, North West, in August 2012.

Last week, the court heard an application by residents of 120 to 128 Bromwell Street, for the City of Cape Town to give them land closer to the Woodstock row houses they would be evicted from to make way for the Woodstock Hub private development. In that application, the residents are resisting being moved to a temporary relocation area in Wolwerivier, almost 30km from the city.

In the Marikana case, the applicants want the City of Cape Town to ask the national and provincial government for money for the buyout.

Hodes said the owners were not planning to evict the residents, although it was in their application as a last resort. They wanted the government to buy or expropriate the land so the 60 000 people living there could carry on with their lives with a roof over their head.

The land owners felt they were being deprived of their constitutional right to use the land because so many people had settled on it, and that the buyout was the only solution.

“The land is now de facto residential and has been for several years.”

The city would submit that the land was unsuitable for reasons including that it was in a noise corridor, near the airport.

“It can't be uninhabitable. There are over 60 000 people living there. Mrs Fischer is still living there,” Hodes said.

He rejected the housing minister's submission on papers that the court should not be allowed to decide on whether it should give the money for the land or not.

“What would the minister suggest is open to the applicants? They must just take their lumps? It's appalling.”

The parties expected to make submissions include the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (SERI), the national and provincial housing departments, and the city itself.

SERI believes the settlement cannot be relocated humanely. It wants the court to order that the city consider expropriating the land, and to provide basic shelter and services on it.

The case continues.

Read more on:    cape town  |  land

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