The Constitutional Court has come to the aid of a Cape Town brick-making firm by confirming an eviction order against a group of former employees who have been living on its land for free for the past five years.
In a majority judgment, written by Acting Judge Cynthia Pretorius, the court ruled in favour of Claytile (Pty) Ltd, confirming eviction orders granted against their former employees by the Belville Magistrate’s Court and the Land Claims Court.
Claytile said the houses they are occupying are needed for current employees. The court ruled that the eviction in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act was just as their entitlement to reside on the farm ended when they were fired for misconduct.
They did not challenge their dismissals. The court confirmed that local authorities – in this case the City of Cape Town had a constitutional duty to provide suitable alternative housing for people who are legally evicted and rendered homeless.
Pretorius said the city could not escape this obligation by saying there were no emergency housing units available.
The group rejected the city’s initial offer of housing at Delft and its latest offer of two-roomed, corrugated-clad units at Wolwerivier, near Atlantis, as unsuitable as they were presently occupying brick houses.
However, Pretorius said the Wolwerivier units qualified as suitable alternative accommodation. Lawyers for Human Rights, which represented the evictees, expressed disappointment at the judgment.
They had hoped the court would make use of the case to develop the law concerning “suitable alternative accommodation” for occupiers on farm land in a progressive manner that also placed a fair burden on private land owners in providing alternative accommodation.