Land occupiers from Tswelopele Extension 8 in Tembisa, east of Johannesburg, are applying for an interdict in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) to prevent the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD) from evicting them, according to a GroundUp report.

The 118 households want demolished homes rebuilt and compensation for damages incurred during their eviction. The case was supposed to be heard on Friday, but was postponed to 16 April to give the judge more time to read the papers. In the meantime, the Ekurhuleni municipality has allowed the occupiers to build up to eight structures as temporary accommodation while the case is being finalised.

The occupation started in August 2018, according to one of its leaders, Florah Tjabadi. She reportedly told GroundUp the occupiers were mostly unemployed and unable to pay rent. She said the land had been vacant for more than 10 years and it had become a hotspot for criminal activity. Tjabadi said the EMPD had evicted the occupiers more than 15 times, without ever showing them an eviction order.

In court papers, Lawyers for Human Rights, which is representing the occupiers, argued that the evictions by the EMPD were illegal and unconstitutional. The EMPD did not have an eviction order and it did not provide the occupiers with alternative accommodation.

But the municipality claimed in its papers that it did not evict people, because the shacks were vacant when they were demolished. It said the municipality did not need an eviction order for shacks that were not properly completed or erected.

Full GroundUp report