19 May 2020: Media Release: The Legal Resources Centre challenges City of Cape Town’s unlawful demolition of homes in Kommitjie Township, Ocean View

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19 May 2020

The Legal Resources Centre challenges City of Cape Town’s unlawful demolition of homes in Kommitjie Township, Ocean View

The Legal Resources Centre has been approached for legal assistance and intervention by five residents from Ocean View whose homes were demolished by the law enforcement division of the City of Cape Town, on 15 May 2020. These residents have all lived in the area with their families since February 2020. The land on which their homes were erected is owned by the Ocean View Development Trust.

Law enforcement officials, acting under the instruction of the City, arrived at the informal settlement and proceeded to evict the occupiers, demolishing homes while some of the residents were absent. These officials also confiscated building material without a court order authorising them to do so.

In terms of regulation 19 under the Disaster Management Act during level 4, issued on 29 April 2020, evictions are expressly prohibited. The provision clearly states that if a court grants an eviction order in terms of the provisions of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997 and the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998, such an order will be suspended until the last day of Level 4, unless a court finds that it would not be just and equitable to do so. Additionally, section 26(3) of the Constitution further states that no person may be evicted or have their home demolished without an order of court having taken into consideration the relevant circumstances.

In light of the above, and taking into consideration that the land in question is not under the ownership or control of the City, its actions are unlawful and it is on this basis that the residents demand the City act as follows:

issue a written undertaking that no further demolitions and evictions will occur in the informal settlement as envisaged in section 19 of the regulations, by no later than Tuesday, 19 May 2020 at 14h00;

return the residents’ building material in the same condition that it was in prior to the demolitions. Alternatively, provide building material that is in good condition for the purposes of rebuilding their homes, in order for them to be compliant with the lockdown regulations, by no later than Wednesday 20 May 2020 at 12h00 and/or;

provide each resident with monetary compensation sufficient to purchase building material to reconstruct their demolished homes.

Should the City fail to comply with the above, we have been instructed to proceed to court.