Concourt ‘no’ to forced removals

2013-02-08 00:00

MUNICIPALITIES cannot summarily remove people from municipal land in order to build on it.

Even if people are occupying the land illegally, the municipality must obtain a court order to remove them or get their permission to relocate them, the Constitutional Court ruled yesterday.

The ruling followed a court case in which the Rustenburg Municipality wanted to force several families off its land.

When the occupants did not want to move voluntary, the municipality sent in bulldozers to flatten the dilapidated shelters in which the families lived.

The municipality wanted to develop new housing on the land which the families occupied.

Yesterday, retired Judge Zac Yacoob delivered the verdict, made by a full bench of the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the illegal occupants had a constitutional right, in terms of which their undisturbed and peaceful occupation of their homes were guaranteed.

By sending in the bulldozers, the municipality had violated the occupants’ constitutional right to housing, he said.

In terms of the ruling, the municipality had to stop all work on the terrain until it had obtained a court order or until the occupants gave their permission for the work to continue.

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