IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF SOUTH AFRICA
Various Occupants v Thubelisha Homes and Others
Hearing Date: 21 August 2008
The following explanatory note is provided to assist the media in reporting this case and is not binding on the Constitutional Court or any member of the Court.
On 21 August 2008 the Constitutional Court will hear an application about the eviction of around twenty thousand people from an informal settlement near Cape Town, known as the Joe Slovo settlement. The case for eviction was brought in the Cape High Court by government agencies responsible for housing on the basis that the eviction was required for the purpose of developing affordable housing for poor people. The High Court granted the ejectment order.
The residents, applicants before the Constitutional Court, say first that they were in lawful occupation and that the decision to evict them was not made fairly and properly. They argue that if they were in unlawful occupation, the eviction order should not have been granted because the law that prevented illegal eviction of certain unlawful occupants had not been complied with. In particular, they contend that it was not just and equitable to evict them and to have them relocated 15 kms away. Finally, they urge that they had a legitimate expectation that 70% of the houses in the new development should be allocated to some of the former residents of Joe Slovo.
The government agencies assert that the residents occupied Joe Slovo unlawfully, that their eviction is just and equitable and that there was no legitimate expectation of the kind asserted.
The Community Law Centre of the University of the Western Cape and the Centre on Housing Rights for Evictions have been admitted as friends of the Court. They support the residents arguing that the socio-economic rights have an element additional to physical housing, so that the rights fulfil their purpose. These rights require poor people to be properly consulted before their evictions.