Court reprieve from eviction for shack dwellers
SHACK dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo was yesterday granted an interdict by the Durban High Court preventing the eThekwini Municipality from evicting people and demolishing their shacks.
Judge Mohini Moodley granted the consent order. The municipality have until September 1 to oppose the interim interdict from becoming final.
Abahlali president Sbu Zikode said the victory was not only for Abahlali but for all South Africans. “What brings us here is the failure of our own government, which expects us to know, respect and uphold the law when, in fact, they violate their laws. We are here to send a message that the law applies to all of us, including institutions of government,” Zikode said.
He said they were representing seven communities, including Ekuthuleni in Dassenhoek, New City in Mariannridge, and Polokwane in Lindelani.
He said the order was an interim one because the court wanted to give the municipality a chance to file opposing court papers and explain why the interdict should not be made final. The order also allows people whose shacks were destroyed by the municipality to be rebuilt, with the destruction affecting 242 families.
Municipal spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said the municipal Land Invasion Unit’s main function was to control, monitor and prevent illegal erections or unauthorised building in the municipality.
“This was in line with the Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) Act of 1998 and Municipal Land Protection Policy ... Land invasions halt our service delivery plans, as they result in the mushrooming of more informal settlements,” Mthethwa said. Eradicating informal settlements needed to be a joint effort from the public and all stakeholders, she added.
The order is the latest clash between the municipality and the movement. Last month, Abahlali marched to the city hall, demanding an end to Metro Police harassment and housing corruption. The protests have been violent.