Court discharges Joe Slovo eviction order

2011-03-31 12:53

The Constitutional Court today discharged an eviction order it had made earlier because the circumstances in the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Cape Town had changed.

“We come to the conclusion that ... it is just and equitable to discharge the order,” read the judgment.

It referred to an eviction order the Constitutional Court had made in June 2009 affecting about 20 000 people in the informal settlement, to allow the government to develop the area.

“The government had claimed that the development of the informal settlement was impossible while the residents continued to reside there. It became clear shortly after the order was granted, however, that the government no longer intended to carry out the eviction in terms of the order, because it had come to the conclusion that it was better to develop the property while the residents remained on site,” read the judgment.

The Constitutional Court said it did have the power to discharge an order previously made if exceptional circumstances existed – and in this case, there were such circumstances.

These included the fact that there was no longer an intention to proceed with the eviction, that the circumstances motivating the court to grant the order had changed and that the order affected thousands of people.

“There is no reason the threat of eviction should continue to disturb the applicants.”

However, the cost order of the 2009 judgment was not discharged.

“It requires the government to pay 50 percent of the applicants’ costs in the High Court and this Court, including the costs of two counsel. It is a final order not susceptible to alteration because of changed circumstances.” 

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