Shack dwellers seek damages over housing delay
Residents of the Winnie Mandela informal settlement in Ekurhuleni are seeking constitutional damages from the local municipality for its failure to build them RDP houses after those allocated to them were illegally occupied by others.
In a 2017 judgment, the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) found that the Ekurhuleni Municipality had misallocated 133 houses which should have been received by Winnie Mandela informal settlement residents, whose subsidies had been used to construct them.
Judge Mmonoa Teffo found that the municipality had breached the residents' rights to housing under section 26 of the Constitution, and criticised the municipality for its constant 'delaying tactics'. The municipality was given until 30 June to provide the residents with a house. However, the residents are still living in shacks with no basic services as the municipality has failed to adhere to the court's deadline, says the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (SERI).
'The latest such tactic has been to request the court to extend, by one year, the period within which the municipality must provide the residents with plots of land and houses to which the residents have now been entitled for up to 20 years,' SERI said in a statement.
On behalf of the residents, SERI is arguing the High Court has no power to vary orders to correct breaches of constitutional rights after those orders have come into effect.
SERI also seeks constitutional damages of R5 000 per resident for every month from 30 June that the court order to provide the residents with houses remains unfulfilled.
Nomzamo Zondo, who represents the residents, said, 'The municipality's conduct reveals that it has never really accepted its obligations to correct the wrong it has done to the residents. The municipality has a constitutional obligation to remedy this situation, and to compensate my clients until it does.'
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