For Immediate Release: 02 August 2018
On 31 July 2018, the High Court in Mthatha granted an urgent interim interdict against Headwoman Nosizwe Maxhwele and four members of her traditional counsel, interdicting them from destroying the properties and unlawfully evicting seven residents of Bhongweni Location, Mthatha, who are represented by the Legal Resource Centre in Makhanda.
The headwoman and her committee members were also interdicted from threatening and intimidating the residents and preventing them from accessing their properties.
Since the death of her husband who was the previous headman in the area, Ms Maxhewele has acted as regent until their son comes of age. Since her appointment in or around 2011/2012, she and her committee members have embarked on a process to forcefully evict people from the land in Bhongweni Location in order to sell the property to developers.
In March 2018, the headwoman and her committee informed seven of the residents that they had to vacate their properties as the plots belong to the chiefdom and had been sold. They were advised that their properties would be destroyed to allow for a contractor to start building on the properties.
The contractor, Mr Sisa Manyadu, proceeded to destroy the fence around one of the properties and erect a wall. On 18 July 2018 the contractor destroyed the house of one of the residents which resulted in their effective eviction from their home. While the residents have opened a case against the headwoman and her committee members with the South African Police Service in Mthatha, nobody has been arrested and the police have failed to assist the residents to stop the illegal evictions and damage to properties.
The Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Occupation of Land Act prevents the eviction of any person from property without a court order. It is common cause that the headwoman and her committee members never obtained a court order.
The land from which the residents are being evicted belongs to the King Sabata-Dalindyebo Local Municipality and is the subject of a land claim in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act. No person may sell, exchange, donate, or develop land that is the subject of a land claim without the written consent of the Chief Land Claims Commissioner.
The interim interdict will act until 28 August 2018 when the headwoman and her counsel must explain to court why the interdict should not be made final. The municipality has not entered an appearance in this case.