Landless People’s Movement Wins a Major Court Victory: Mnisi v City of Johannesburg

8 08 2009

Press Statement
Landless People’s Movement, Protea South
Friday, 07 August 2009

Winning Our Land Back – the Landless People’s Movement Wins a Major Court Victory

On Tuesday 4th August the South Gauteng High Court handed down a major victory for the Landless People’s Movement in Protea South, Johannesburg.

We have struggled long and hard in Protea South. Over the years our marches have been banned and we have been arrested, beaten, shot at with rubber bullets, threatened and tortured.

The judgment is a victory against forced removal. We have long been resisting plans to dump us in Dornkop which is far away from Protea South which is where we live and near to where we work and school. The City of Johannesburg have been insisting that we must accept forced removal to a human dumping ground whether we like it or not. They said that the land in Protea South is for the people that have money. Wozani security was a threat to us when the councillor called meetings to try and impose the relocation on the people. The judgment forces the City of Johannesburg to upgrade our settlement where we are living or to provide land and housing to us very near to where we are living. It bans the City of Johannesburg from evicting us until the next court date.

The judgment is also a victory against the denial of services to the poor. It gives the City of Johannesburg one month to report on the work that it has done to give us toilets, water, refuse collection and lighting.

The judgment is also a victory for real democracy. It forces the City of Johannesburg to plan with us and not for us.

This is not the first time that we have won victories in court. We will mobilise and keep our movement strong to ensure that this is not just a victory on paper.

On 30 September 2008 we submitted our memorandum to the acting premier of Gauteng Paul Mashatile regarding the transit camp in Protea South that must be removed. The transit camp was not blessed by the community. The department of housing failed to consult with the community about his and all other issues. They failed to accurately and fairly identify the beneficiaries and who qualifies for the housing subsidy and who does not. They failed to respect the constitution of the country and the human dignity and privacy of the community. There was no participation at all. This is why we marched and submitted our memorandum to demand that the transit camp must be taken down and that the corruption around it must be stopped. The chairperson of the local ANC branch, and ward committee member, Abednigo Makhubela got the tender to do the security for the transit camp. Our money, the tax money, was being used only to benefit the individual leaders of the ANC. But while they are benefiting our streets are in a very bad condition, there is a very high number of people who are unemployed and poverty and crime are increasing everywhere in South Africa. Many questions are still remaining about this corruption. We still need answers.

We are so luck to have an attorney like Moray Hawthorn. He struggles with us, not for us. He is very committed to serve the poor. We need more lawyers like Moray.

Many people said that we were wrong to take the government to court. We have been vindicated. The government was wrong to treat us with contempt. It is clear that even the court can recognise this.

Yesterday we saw an article on page 4 of the Daily Sun in which Amos Masondo was saying that shacks will be eradicated in Johannesburg by 2014. He said nothing about how this would be done. The law and policy are on the side of participatory in-situ upgrades. This is also our position. We warn Masondo that we will not accept any forced removals or transit camps. The power that the rich have over the land will have to be broken.

We have called an urgent meeting of the Landless People’s Movement to organise a celebration of this victory in the court and also the victory against the transit camp.

We will continue to struggle in the courts and in the streets. We will continue to build the power of the poor in our communities.

For further information contact:

Maureen Mnisi, chairperson of the LPM in Protea South on 082 337 4514
Bongani Xezwi, youth organiser of LPM in Protea South Branch on 071-043-222
Maas Van Wyk, LPM Protea South on 079 267 3203
Thomas Maemganyi, LPM Protea South on 072 613 2738

This judgment, handed down today, directs the City of Johannesburg to:

Within one month

  1. Report on its steps to realise the applicant’s right to housing.
  2. State whether it has fully investigated the possibilities of in situ upgrading and relocation as close as is possible to the Protea South Settlement.
  3. Report on its steps to provide water, sanitation, refuse removal and high mast lighting.
  4. The City is interdicted against evicting the LPM comrades until the next court date which will be after the one month deadline for the City to report on its steps to provide housing and basic services to the comrades where or very close to where they are currently living.

Qina!

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Mnisi v City_of_ Johannesburg.doc 148 KB
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