Evictions ruling seen as 'disaster' for rural occupiers
Former employees of a brick plant in Cape Town have lost their five-year battle to hold on to their farm homes, notes a TimesLIVE report. Yesterday the Constitutional Court said they should move 30km from Muldersvlei‚ near Klapmuts‚ to Wolwerivier‚ near Atlantis‚ which they argued is too far from their children’s schools and their workplace. A spokesperson for Lawyers for Human Rights‚ which represented the ex-employees‚ said the judgment was disappointing.
‘This approach has potentially disastrous consequences for ex-employees of mining companies and other rural occupiers‚’ said Carol Mohlala. The judgment said it was the municipality’s role to find alternative accommodation‚ and deemed Wolwerivier suitable. However‚ the judges had harsh words for the Cape Town City Council.
‘It is astounding that the city waited to inform this court of its offer on alternative accommodation until only a few days before the hearing of the matter‚’ they said. ‘The city has had more than five years to fulfil its constitutional obligation to provide alternative accommodation‚ but waited until the last minute.’
The Constitutional Court held the city is constitutionally obliged, and cannot escape its duty, to provide, suitable alternative accommodation, not only in terms of the provisions of Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA), but also in terms of section 26 of the Constitution. It emphasised that the preamble to ESTA does not deal only with the rights of occupiers, but similarly recognises the rights of landowners to apply for eviction under certain conditions and circumstances.
This court accepted that the housing units at Wolwerivier qualify as suitable alternative accommodation as provided by the city within ‘its available resources’. The court ordered the city to secure five housing units for the applicants at Wolwerivier. The applicants are ordered to vacate the first respondent’s premises within 90 days of the date of this order. The city was ordered to pay the costs of the applicants up to 23 February 2017.
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