Big win for land occupiers in Cape Town
Urgent Court Interdict
On Tuesday, 25 August 2020, the Western Cape High Court granted an urgent interdict to prevent the City of Cape Town from evicting people who have unlawfully occupied vacant land without permission during the lockdown.
For protection of the rights of land occupiers during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Western Cape High Court ruled that the City of Cape Town, its Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU) and any private contractors appointed by the City of Cape Town, are interdicted and restrained from evicting people from structures throughout the City without a court order.
The interdict refers to structures including tents, huts, shacks and other dwellings, whether occupied or not.
New court orders granted for eviction
In the event that a court orders for an eviction during the lockdown, such eviction or removal from property must be done in a manner that is lawful and respects and upholds the dignity of all persons who are being evicted.
Where an eviction is authorised by a court order, all police officials, and its members, are to ensure that when they are present during an eviction, or demolition, such eviction must be done lawfully and in line with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
The City of Cape Town is further prohibited from using excessive force, or from destroying or confiscating any materials, or goods, which is deemed to be property of the land occupiers.
Evictions in other provinces
According to the Level 2 Lockdown Regulations, evictions are still not allowed by both the Municipality and individuals, unless a court order is granted. However, the courts, may, at its discretion, only grant court orders under exceptional circumstances, and the courts are taking into account arrangements made by the tenant or occupier and their financial status.
Any eviction granted under Level 2, may not be executed until after the national state of disaster has lapsed or has been terminated. The only exception to this is where the court decides it is not just and equitable to suspend the order.
It should be noted that it would be unfair practice on the part of the Municipality or landlord to evict a tenant or occupier without providing them with reasonable notice and an opportunity to make representation.
This article is not intended to provide legal advice. This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. This article is based on research regarding the EAAB Guidelines and may be subject to change. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).
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