Il­le­gal land oc­cu­piers want al­ter­na­tive shel­ters

African Times - - News - BUKUTA NKUNA

EVICTED res­i­dents of Sterk­loop farm along the Matlala Road out­side Polok­wane, Lim­popo, are chal­leng­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to pro­vide them with al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion.

But the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has re­jected their plea, in­sist­ing that the court in is­su­ing the evic­tion or­der did not men­tion that al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion must be pro­vided.

“In our case, the Judge never said that we should pro­vide them with al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion. That is why as the mu­nic­i­pal­ity we did not con­sider the is­sue of al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion. We had also given them a no­tice prior to the evic­tion and that they should re­lo­cate within the given dates. So, they failed to ad­here to the no­tice along with the court or­der and we were forced to re­move them as the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” said Polok­wane mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son De­siree Manyane.

For­mer EFF ward coun­cil­lor­turned-com­mu­nity ac­tivist Len Meyer said:“The whole evic­tion saga started when most of the peo­ple oc­cu­py­ing land were wrong­fully evicted by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. So, they later went and oc­cu­pied an­other piece of land. On the first day the res­i­dents oc­cu­pied the newly found land, they re­ceived no­tices from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the in­ten­tion to evict them.

“That is when we op­posed their de­ci­sion and that was when the mat­ter was taken to court and heard on the 12th of Septem­ber [this year]. So, we went to court and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity asked once again to evict us of which the judge dis­agreed stat­ing that she would like to hear the full story be­hind the mat­ter. She had set the mat­ter for the 13th of Novem­ber, but the mu­nic­i­pal­ity brought an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion on the 24th of Septem­ber.

“We were called to ap­pear on the 26th (Septem­ber) be­cause they had brought an ab­bre­vi­a­tion on that or­der. But in court the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity said that they had in­formed the sher­iff but the sher­iff re­fused to as­sist them with the evic­tion. They did get their ab­bre­vi­a­tion but the court agreed that since the mat­ter would be heard in Novem­ber it would be wise that they wait for that up­com­ing ap­pear­ance. On the 29th of Septem­ber with­out telling the res­i­dents that they were go­ing to evict, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity just started de­mol­ish­ing shacks.”

Meyer said that they were chal­leng­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity be­cause a num­ber of fam­i­lies had been forced to sleep on the streets and that the evic­tions were in vi­o­la­tion of the law.

“There is a judge­ment by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court that says that there should at least be an al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion for the evictees. I am now liv­ing with some evicted fam­i­lies in my house be­cause I could not desert them, but some are now sleep­ing in the streets as they do not have places to stay,” said Meyer.

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