- On Tuesday, the Red Ants evicted a group of people who were occupying a property in Dunkeld, Johannesburg.
- In an urgent application by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), representing the occupants, the South Gauteng High Court ruled the eviction unlawful.
- The group can go back to occupying the property until the case is finalised in court.
The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has ruled the eviction of a group illegally occupying a property in Dunkeld was unlawful, and they should be allowed to move back onto the property.
In an urgent application heard by Judge Gregory Wright on Friday, lawyers from the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), who represent 35 people occupying the property, argued the eviction was unlawful.
They said this was because the occupants had been occupying the space unlawfully for years and were protected under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.
On Tuesday, eviction and security company the Red Ants descended on a property in Bompas Road following an interim court order issued against about 100 people who were illegally squatting on the property. Most of the people occupying the property make ends meet by collecting recycled goods.
In February, representatives of the property owner were granted an interim order to prevent people from erecting structures and living on the property.
On Friday, they argued people had invaded the property between December and January 2021 and had not been there for years, as they claimed. This meant they could not be protected under the act.
"Pending the final determination of the first and second respondents' application for the final interdict in these proceedings, the first, second and seventh respondents are interdicted and restrained, where themselves, or through the agency of any person, from evicting the applicants from the property, or otherwise interfering with the applicants' peaceful and undisturbed possession of the applicants' homes at the property," the order read.
In an affidavit by Gcina Mncube, who said she had lived on the property for 11 years, she argued the interim order obtained in February did not apply to them as they were not recent occupants, and they did not know the people cited in the papers.
"If those people, in fact, exist, they are not the applicants in this application. We are the people who have been residing in our homes on the property for years. We are entitled to the protection of the act. The first and second respondents were not entitled to evict us on the strength of the interim interdict," read Mncube's affidavit.
Since their eviction on Tuesday, many of the people who occupied the property are now living on the pavement in front of it.
"I am happy because we were in darkness and didn't know how long we would be on that road and how it would end. We didn't know where to go or where to ask for space, but I am at peace now. Everyone on that street is waiting for us to bring them the good news," Sipho Ntuli, one of the occupants who were in court, said.
Meanwhile, the group was given until 3 May to make submissions as to why the February interim order should not be made permanent.
"The applicants are granted leave to intervene in the proceedings for a final interdict instituted by the first and second applicants [in the February order] and to the extent that it may be necessary to do so, to anticipate the return day of the rule nisi, granted by Mudau J on 23 February 2021," the order read.
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