Shack dwellers’ victory

2009-10-15 00:00

RESIDENTS of the Kennedy Road settlement in Durban were jubilant yesterday at the ruling of the Constitutional Court that a law that would have allowed mass evictions in KwaZulu-Natal is unconstitutional.

Members of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA, which fights for the rights of shack dwellers, were present at the Constitutional Court when the ruling was made.

The group was formed in 2005 after residents staged a massive roadblock to protest against the sale of land to a local businessman that had been promised to shack dwellers.

Abahlali vice president Lindela Figlan said the ruling is a huge victory for shack dwellers in KZN and residents across South Africa.

He said Abahlali are fighting for their rights, which are enshrined in the Constitution. “This is not only about Abahlali baseMjondolo, but a victory for every person that lives in a shack.… There will not be any celebrations as we already knew that we would be successful,” he said.

“I know that residents will be very excited about this as we have been fighting for this for a long time. It shows government that we are aware of our constitutional rights,” he said.

• Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, who was the guest speaker at the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness at the city hall in the capital yesterday, congratulated Abahlali for exercising their democratic right.

He said: “This indicates that we need now is an engaged citizenry. What we’ve tended to do is to stand back and allow things to happen to us, even in our own name. What Abahlali baseMjondolo have shown us is ‘not in our name and not on our watch’.”

There was no official response yesterday from KZN Human Settlements MEC Maggie Govender. Her spokesman, Nkululeko Ngcamu, said the MEC will comment once she has studied the judgment.

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