State can’t evict willy-nilly

2012-08-25 16:17

Association takes the city to the Constitutional Court to allow people to live in their dangerous building again.

The City of Tshwane seized the opportunity created by violent unrest at one of its rental buildings to “fabricate a mess” and unlawfully justify evicting thousands of residents without properly following the law, the Constitutional Court heard this week.

These claims form part of the Schubart Park Residents’ Association court challenge.

The association has asked South Africa’s highest court to force the city to return people to their homes in the block of flats – even though the building has been condemned and declared dangerous for human habitation.

In September last year residents embarked on a series of violent protests after the city council disconnected Schubart Park’s water and electricity. Residents were then evicted, and the North Gauteng High Court issued an order upholding the decision.

It is this order which the association is contesting – its lawyer told the court this week that the City of Tshwane had not obtained an eviction order before removing the 700 families from their homes.

The association’s lawyer, Rudolph Jansen SC, acknowledged that the building posed a danger to the public and residents, but said residents were adamant they should be allowed to return. The association also wants the water and electricity reconnected.

Jansen said the city had “abused this situation (of violent unrest) to achieve this goal of eviction, which they planned for some time.”

A group of former Schubart Park residents protested outside the court during proceedings this week, denouncing the eviction.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (Serisa) is also arguing against the evictions as a friend of the court.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa is a second respondent in the ­matter.

Advocate Stuart Williams SC, representing Serisa, told the court: “This case is not really about the residents’ safety, nor the habitability of the property. It is about the ease with which the state entered and removed 3 000 people from their homes, without any legal warrant whatsoever.”

Williams said the city’s assertion that the building was a “death trap” should not have been used to justify the eviction because, according to the city’s own documents, the council had intended to evict residents as early as January 2009 but had failed to do so by then.

Advocate Mzizi Mphaga, for the city council, appealed to the court not to grant the appeal against the eviction.

He said that doing so would be “counter-productive” because the council intended to demolish and rebuild the Schubart Park complex.

If the council was forced to return people to the existing building, Mphaga said, the city would have to spend R900 million on renovations.
The same amount of money is estimated to be necessary to build a new, bigger and safer block from scratch after demolishing the old buildings.

The court reserved judgment.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.