The residents of Vusumuzi informal settlement in Tembisa will find out today if their court interdict against the City of Ekurhuleni, over alleged illegal evictions in the area, was successful.
Yesterday, the High Court in Johannesburg heard arguments from the state and Abahlali baseMjondolo, which is representing the residents, about how families were displaced and lost their belongings as a result of the evictions under the guise of re-blocking.
Re-blocking is a process in which shacks built close together are separated to make space for development.
Thulani Nkosi, from the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, representing Abahlali baseMjondolo, argued the evictions and demolitions were illegal and should be suspended.
“The demolitions under their current guise are unlawful and constitute both an eviction without a court order and an arbitrary deprivation of property. This is so because there is no court order authorising such action.
“The action was commenced on misrepresentation and under the guise of improving lives. No proper engagement preceded the action,” said Nkosi.
He said the re-blocking had nothing to do with the promises made as a pretext for the demolitions and there had not been any negotiations with residents.
“It appears to us this re-blocking is really about reducing people’s stands so the municipality can accommodate people from other informal settlements.”
He said the re-blocking was also inconsistent.
“The criteria appears to be whether or not you are known by the councillor or feared by the re-blocking mob,” he said in court papers.
Busisiwe Shabalala, from Abahlali baseMjondolo, said some people’s houses were completely destroyed, and others’ homes were forcibly reduced into smaller sizes that were not viable for their families to fit into.