Judgment reserved in District Six homeless eviction case

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  • The Western Cape High Court has reserved judgment in the eviction case of 46 homeless people squatting in District Six.
  • Legal counsel for the City of Cape Town argued that alternative accommodation was provided for those affected. 
  • Ndifuna Ukwazi's legal representative argued that the City of Cape Town was evicting people during a national state of disaster, which was unlawful. 

The Western Cape High court has reserved judgment in the eviction case of 46 homeless people in District Six, whose structures were forcibly destroyed by law enforcement officials, two weeks ago.

The legal team for the City of Cape Town, argued that it had offered alternative accommodation in Philippi and said they would return the shelters that was taken from those affected.

Legal counsel, Roseline Nyman, told the court when law enforcement arrived at the scene, there were 60 people at the site.

"Whatever has been in the City's possession, the City will return those items. When law enforcement officials arrived at that site, the majority of the people complied with the request to remove their goods and structures," Nyman said.

She added that a handful of people became agitated with officials because they had no court order to remove the structures.

"The majority of people already had their items removed. Whatever [items] is at the site in Ndabeni, the City will return to them because what would the City do with it. The items were impounded and the homeless are entitled to receive them," she said.

WATCH | District Six evictions: Homeless say they lost everything during City of Cape Town operation

Nyman said 17 confiscation notices were issued to the homeless people, where their tents were removed.

Judge Rosheni Allie questioned whether the City had any inventory in place to indicate which items and property belonged to whom, to which Nyman responded that they had no inventory, and that the discretion was with the homeless.

Allie said:

There may as well be a squabble as to whose belongings are whose. If you have no inventory and items were taken, in addition to abandoned tents taken from people, who were not home, who's to know what belongs to who.

Nyman stressed that a substantial number people living in District Six could be "undocumented foreigners".   

But Ndifuna Ukwazi's lawyer, Ranjan Jaga, told the court while the country was in a national state of disaster, the City was removing people from their homes.

READ | City of Cape Town's bid to have judge recused for 'bias' in District Six eviction case dismissed

"The City must be considerate of the supreme law of this country and the Constitution of the country as well as the Disaster Management Act. I have not heard an argument about the state of disaster; we are in a national lockdown and it's a pandemic. You cannot remove people from their home under this state of disaster," Jaga said. 

Jaga added the possessions of the homeless were not returned by the City. 

"There are layers of legislation involved in this, like the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE ACT) which prohibits carrying out unlawful occupation," he said.

Meanwhile, the City, on Wednesday, brought an urgent court application requesting that Allie recuse herself on grounds that she could be biased.

Allie dismissed the application with costs, saying she was not persuaded on a conspectus of all incidents during the course of the hearing.

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