The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria will be asked to intervene in the housing allocation crisis in Tembisa’s Winnie Mandela Park informal settlement, which has resulted in some residents becoming homeless.
The court has granted leave to residents who face eviction and harassment to intervene in an application by an opposing group, aimed at finding a lasting solution to the problem.
But this means, the court will have to take the interests of two opposing groups into account – those who face eviction because the stands on which many of them had been living for up to 20 years had been allocated to others, and those who were unable to occupy them because they are already occupied.
The legal battle of one of the residents, Ntome Mathale, to remain in the shack he has been occupying for more than 20 years last year resulted in a Constitutional Court judgment that criticised the Ekurhuleni municipality for the chaos that had resulted in the misplacement of multitudes of poor people.
The court said it was lamentable that after 21 years of democracy, the inhabitants of Winnie Mandela Park found themselves in this untenable situation. It found it disconcerting that the municipality gave no reasons for the chaos, apart from saying it was “reviewing the housing delivery situation”.
A group of residents led by Mathale turned to the court to intervene after trying in vain to be included in ongoing, but apparently failed, negotiations to resolve the allocation crisis.
The group that cannot move on to their allocated stands want the municipality and national housing authorities to provide them with alternative permanent housing, while the group already living there are seeking security of tenure.
Mathale alleged in an affidavit the allocation processes had been conducted without proper investigation of the occupation of stands, resulting in more than one household being allocated the same serviced stands, or stands not being allocated to the households occupying them.
He said although the two groups were on opposing ends of the allocation crisis, a resolution to the problem would be in everyone’s interest.