News / South Africa / Courts

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
21 Jan 2019
6:18 am

Eviction laws challenged in court

Ilse de Lange

Also challenged by LFN are the Trespass Act and Johannesburg’s debt collection policy bylaws.

The City of Johannesburg.

The voluntary organisation Liberty Fighters Network (LFN) has launched a wide-ranging constitutional challenge to illegal eviction legislation.

Also challenged by LFN are the Trespass Act, Johannesburg’s debt collection policy bylaws, and even a report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela, which they say is being used to aid illegal evictions.

LFN president Reyno de Beer told The Citizen that President Cyril Ramaphosa and the justice and human settlements ministers, as well as the National Prosecuting Authority, had already filed papers opposing the application.

LFN said it hoped to enrol for a hearing in the High Court in Pretoria, after filing a reply within the next week or two.

The organisation attacks the legality of Johannesburg’s property highjacking unit, which it alleges assists property owners to illegally disconnect electricity and water to occupied properties without notice, thereby forcing occupiers to leave without court orders.

LFN wants the court to allow representatives of tenants’ associations to represent occupiers during eviction proceedings; to stop police from refusing to open criminal dockets in cases of suspected illegal evictions without court orders; and to stop the arrest of persons in terms of the Trespass Act without eviction orders.

In addition, it wants the court to set aside Madonsela’s 2015 Broken Promises report, and to force the president and the human settlements minister to proclaim the date of commencement of the long-awaited Rental Housing Amendment Act.

De Beer, a property manager and legal consultant within the property industry for many years, filed an affidavit of more than 100 pages in which he set out the numerous problems he had encountered over the years.

These are with so-called property hijackings and illegal and often forceful evictions, without occupiers even being notified in advance.

He said between the DA-run Johannesburg municipality and the DA-run council’s property hijacking unit, they had literally gone on a “witch hunt” to arrest and prosecute occupants of many suspected hijacked properties in Johannesburg over the past year.

However, says LFN, the actual culprits were being protected, resulting in unsuspecting occupants being illegally evicted or forced out without court orders.

The office of the state attorney in November last year cautioned LFN to rethink its application, which it said could have huge cost implications for the organisation and is being dealt with by existing legislation.

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