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City of Cape Town to petition SCA over ‘land invasion’ eviction judgment

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato.

  • The City of Cape Town intends petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal after its application for leave to appeal an unlawful land occupation judgment.
  • It believes not being able to clear empty structures built on land illegally occupied without a court order will be harmful. 
  • It fears “land invasions” will overrun the city. 

The City of Cape Town intends petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal after the Western Cape High Court dismissed its bid to reverse a judgment that stops it from clearing illegally built unoccupied shacks without a court order.

“The South African Human Rights Commission [SAHRC] in recent weeks initiated court proceedings against the City of Cape Town to interdict us from preventing unlawful land occupations,” said Mayor Dan Plato in a statement.

“The court ruled in favour of the SAHRC and the City of Cape Town applied for leave to appeal the judgment. Our application was today dismissed,” he added.

READ | Landowners must be able to protect their property by removing structures before it’s occupied – Winde

“We simply cannot tolerate unlawful land occupations overrunning this city given the Western Cape High Court’s interdict requiring the City to obtain a court order to demolish unoccupied structures, i.e. structures that do not qualify as homes.”

Plato added the right to counter-spoliate was vital to the City’s land protection efforts since time is of the essence in removed unoccupied structures during organised “land invasions” without a court order. 

Bulelani Qolani

Bulelani Qolani at the door to the shack which was torn down with him inside. It was rebuilt by neighbours.

He said for evictions and the dismantling of occupied structures, court orders were obtained in line with the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.

Next week, the court will hear the SAHRC’s application to declare counter-spoliation unlawful. 

“This dangerous precedent would not only severely impact the City’s ability to protect public land, but also the rights of any and all landowners to do so.”

Counter-spoliation is legal action taken to retrieve property taken illegally. 

“As mayor, my commitment to residents remains that we will fight for the right to protect public land from unlawful occupation all the way.”

The application to stop the evictions without a court order came after the highly publicised eviction of Bulelani Qolani during the lockdown when evictions were not permitted, but illegal occupation of land was also not permitted. 

Qolani was filmed being chased and tackled with no clothes on and his shack was broken down while he was inside it. 

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