The Western Cape High Court case concerning the rights of landowners during property invasions continued yesterday after the recusal application for one of the judges was dismissed.

A Cape Times report notes the HRC requested that Judge Hayley Slingers recuse herself from hearing the matter, because her husband worked for the City of Cape Town – one of the main parties in the dispute.

Judges Slingers, Vincent Saldanha and Mokgoatji Dolamo are currently presiding over the matter.

Yesterday the three dismissed the recusal application, with reasons still to be provided to the HRC.

Legal representative for the HRC, Norman Arendse SC, said they reserved their rights to appeal at a later stage, but would not object if proceedings continued yesterday.

‘There's huge costs to the state in employing a counsel, and we've got to be responsive in that regard. We await the reasons from the court in due course, as indicated,’ Arendse said.

The case involves the HRC, EFF and Housing Assembly challenging the constitutionality of counter-spoliation.

This followed scenes of Bulelani Qolani being dragged naked and humiliated from his Khayelitsha shack in June last year, when the city's law enforcement officers tore it down. The city is in favour of the counter-spoliation, saying it gives landowners the right to protect their land.

The HRC and EFF, on the other hand, argue that demolition of structures on unoccupied land should only be supervised by the courts, as provided for in the Constitution.

As proceedings continued yesterday, Stuart Wilson for shack dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo – admitted as amicus curiae – argued that engagement with community leaders of settlements was crucial in avoiding conflict.

‘There's absolutely no difficulty with the proposition of the city at least trying, once it sees an occupation might start, to go to a community,’ Wilson said.

According to the Cape Times report, Sean Rosenberg SC, for the city, said the construction of PIE was relatively uncontroversial.

‘The application of PIE may present difficulties, but we submit that the construction of PIE, which is contended for by the applicants, applies to any structure occupied or unoccupied,’ Rosenberg said.

Full Cape Times report