SAHRC : Evictions must involve 'ubuntu'

Cape Town - Evictions of illegal land dwellers must be done humanely, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Sheriffs of the court and assisting police should treat evictees with dignity and respect at all times, SAHRC commissioner Mohamed Ameermia said at the inquiry investigating the removal of people and structures from private land in Lwandle, Cape Town.

There should also be no unreasonable damage to property.

"In conclusion, we have got to look at evictions in a humane way in the spirit of Ubuntu [African concept of humanity]," he said.

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu set up the inquiry to probe the forced removals off the SA National Roads Agency Limited road reserve on 2 and 3 June.

The SAHRC had submitted a report with its recommendations to the inquiry. It indicated it was busy with its own inquiry on the removals and reserved its rights.

Alternative accommodation

Ameermia said evictions could only take place on the basis of a court order and had to abide by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.

Evictees should be given the opportunity to be involved in the resolution of the dispute, and not be seen as an afterthought.

Plans should be made for alternative accommodation. Municipalities should be joined to any eviction order to facilitate these contingency plans.

Lwandle evictees were forced to find shelter in the Nomzamo community hall. Just over 300 people were still living in the hall three months after the eviction, inquiry chair Denzil Potgieter said on Wednesday.

"We are not sure what the developments around that are going to be but we are keeping an eye on that aspect," he said.

The inquiry previously heard that people would be moved back to the land they were evicted from. Sanitation and basic services were being provided.

After visiting the land on Tuesday, the inquiry found that 483 temporary structures had been erected and the majority were occupied.

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