Press Statement: Legal Resources Centre
The order has been suspended by virtue of the occupants bringing an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which is still pending. And in the meantime the occupants have instructed their lawyers to attempt to take the matter straight to the Constitutional Court. In this regard the occupants seem to be in agreement with the Ministers and Thubelisha Homes who seek their eviction.
State owned company Thubelisha Homes, the National Minister of Housing and the MEC require the eviction of approximately 20 000 people from the land at Joe Slovo – a well positioned piece of land fairly close to the city. The purpose of the evictions, they argue, is to rehabilitate the land for the Gateway housing programme, which is government’s biggest housing project in the Western Cape.
They have offered the evictees alternative accommodation at Delft approximately 20 kms away from Joe Slovo and further away from the city and it’s employment opportunities. This means, and has been proven as such that transport, crime and unemployment are serious problems at Delft.
In his judgement Judge Hlophe dismissed the resident’s contention that they are living on the land with the consent of the city. He held that they are illegal occupants and are subject to the provisions of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from the Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE). He further held that as they were illegal occupants they could not claim that they have a legitimate substantive expectation to see that their housing rights are realised at Joe Slovo on the basis of a promise made by officials that 70% of the houses would be allocated to current residents.
The Judge also held that Thubelisha Homes and the Ministers had complied with all the requirements of the Prevention of Illega Evictions from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE).
In his affidavit outlining their appeal case, Mayenzeke Sopaqa, a leader of the Joe Slovo community, stated that the residents would prefer that the matter go directly to the Constitutional Court, as the matter would inevitably reach the Constitutional Court after a hearing at the Supreme Court of Appeal. This would also result in the matter being resolved quicker and with less expense. He submits that Judge Hlophe’s judgment was wrong in a number of respects. He asserts that the Judge was wrong in finding that they had not shown that they had the consent of the city to live on the land, as they have received services from and engaged with the City for more than a decade. And that not only did they have consent, but that in evicting them the Judge ignored their substantive legitimate expectations and that to do so is a breach of their rights. Sopaqa further avers that the occupants have shown that the applicant company and Ministers failed to comply with the provisions of PIE; and also failed to properly describe the land and site from which they seek the eviction of these 20 000 black occupants - the poorest people closest to the city of Cape Town.
The current housing crisis in Cape Town, and South Africa as a whole requires that state policies pass constitutional scrutiny so that some of the most vulnerable members of our society are adequately protected and treated with dignity.