‘City bends law on demolitions’

2018-06-14 06:02
Despite many of these shacks being demolished on Wednesday, they were back up by ThursdayPHOTO: Ashraf hendricks

Despite many of these shacks being demolished on Wednesday, they were back up by ThursdayPHOTO: Ashraf hendricks

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As City of Cape Town Law Enforcement officers demolished shacks in the Island Informal Settlement in Makhaza last Wednesday, residents complained that their building materials was also confiscated­.

This happened as there is an ongoing case by the occupiers against the City to prevent such evictions.

The residents lodged court papers on Wednesday 11 April and the case was first heard at the Western Cape High court on Thursday 3 May. The next hearing is set for today, Thursday 14 June.

The crux of the case is whether or not the City may proceed with evicting occupiers without first obtaining an eviction order, even though the City has an interdict preventing occupation of the land.

In dispute is whether or not the shacks removed by the City were indeed occupied.

On Thursday, rebuilding of the shacks had already begun. Unlike many informal settlements, the occupants have built shacks in rows, thus creating roads for easy access to the area.

“We know we are not going to get services,” says committee member, Fundile Mapolisa­.

“As the people that will be living here, we are making things easier for us … We want ambulances and police to be able to get into the community. We want a community where we are not prone to fire even if we live in shacks.”

Mapolisa says that the committee had registered over a 1000 households.

When GROUNDUP arrived he had been walking around the area to see if people were building in line with what had been agreed on.

In the court case, the judge ordered mediation between the City and the occupants. The parties have had one meeting since then.

Axolile Notywala, General Secretary of the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) says the organisation had filed an urgent affidavit on Friday 11 May after shacks were demolished on Monday 7 May to say the City was in contempt of court.

“They are in contempt of their own interdict which states specifically that the interdict may not be used as an eviction order,” says Notywala.

Notywala cited an order given by Judge Robert Henney on Friday 11 May. It states: “It is further ordered that no person occupying a structure should be evicted by demolition as at date of this order.”

Jonty Clogger, an attorney with the Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre, explained that the problem is that the City believes the houses they are demolishing are unoccupied.

“We have seen from the video evidence it is not the case,” says Clogger.

In response to a list of questions, including whether occupied shacks were demolished, the City’s Director of Communication Priya Reddy says the City “has a court order in place”.

“The City was accompanied by the Sheriff of the Court on Monday 30 May. The mediation order is being complied with,” says Reddy. “Further responses will be made directly to the complainants, as and when required.”

Lutho Gwebinto’s bed and a few other belongings were still outside his shack on Thursday. He says he was at work when his shack was demolished on Wednesday.

“I spent R3500 to buy this shack and today alone I have spent close to R2000 replacing the damaged material and on transport to get those things. I am not a rich man. I do not just have money lying around.”

Bus driver Siyabonga Similo says: “No one would choose to move to a place where the is no water or electricity… We are all here because we are desperate.”

Previously, the City’s Law Enforcement had removed occupiers on the stretch of land but further away in Green Point, Khayelitsha in scenes that have played themselves out more frequently this year in Cape Town.

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith said the City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit removes about 15 000 “illegal structures per annum”. – GroundUp

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