Cape Argus

David v Goliath land win

High court rules in favour of residents in spat with big West Coast property developer


IN A battle akin to David and Goliath, big property developer West Coast Properties was sent packing after the Western Cape High Court ruled in favour of more than 100 residents who were on the verge of being evicted.

West Coast Properties tried to eject 126 residents who have been staying in Steenberg’s Cove, a small town in St Helena Bay on the West Coast.

Judge Daniel Dlodlo delivered a scathing judgment yesterday: “The court is duty bound to give special regard to the rights of elderly, children and disabled persons involved.

“Gone are the days when people are willy-nilly evicted from what they regard as their home,” he said.

“I am not persuaded that the applicant made out a case deserving the granting of relief sought.

“It is recommende­d that the applicant, the respondent­s and the municipali­ty engage in meaningful discussion in order to resolve the matter.”

The residents have organised themselves as the “Windhoek Gemeenskap”. It consists predominan­tly of pensioners and people living with disabiliti­es and illnesses.

A majority of the residents used to work in a fishing factory until it closed down in 1967, and as a benefit they were given free accommodat­ion.

The battle started in 2011 when West Coast Properties began drawing up its plans and was given approval (to develop the area).

The residents were in negotiatio­ns with the municipali­ty to relocate but discussion­s were halted after the municipali­ty identified a piece of land that was privately owned but couldn’t afford it.

West Coast Properties then brought forward an applicatio­n to have the residents evicted last year, and the case was heard last month.

“Principall­y, the duty to provide housing is not one to be borne by private citizens. Indeed it is trite that it was never intended by the drafters of our Constituti­on that an individual’s right to housing was one to be shouldered by private entities,” said Judge Dlodlo. He dismissed the applicatio­n to evict the residents.

Community leader Jerome Lewis welcomed the ruling.

“This is a massive victory for us, some huge developmen­ts have been taking place in the West Coast and if we look at what has been happening with land in our country, we see this as a victory,” he said.

West Coast Properties attorney Stephan Van Meer said: “We are still studying the judgment and we will only be able to comment once we’ve looked at it.”

 ??  ?? STEENBERG’S Cove residents had been on the verge of being evicted from their homes by West Coast Properties. |
STEENBERG’S Cove residents had been on the verge of being evicted from their homes by West Coast Properties. |

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