Cape Town - There were scenes of jubilation outside the Western Cape High Court on Thursday morning as residents from the Marikana informal settlement celebrated a judgment which deemed shack demolitions by the City of Cape Town in January unlawful and unconstitutional.
The city has been interdicted from demolishing further structures without a court order. The court ordered the city to build shacks to the equivalent of those demolished by the anti-land invasion unit on January 7 and 8.
The residents’ lawyer, Sheldon Magardie, hailed the judgment as a victory not only for the residents of Marikana but for shack dwellers everywhere.
Tumi Ramahlele, a Marikana resident and community leader, said the city’s anti-land invasion unit had never been welcome in Marikana, “and now the court has ruled that they must stay away. Amandla!” he shouted, over the singing of his compatriots.
The mayoral committee member for human settlements, Tandeka Gqada, had not been told about the judgment when contacted for comment on Thursday morning. She said she would consult the city’s lawyers before issuing a statement.
When the matter was heard in court about three weeks ago, Magardie, of the Legal Resources Centre, argued that the anti-land invasion unit acted “unlawfully and unconstitutionally” when it demolished shacks on a plot of private land off Lansdowne Road, in Philippi East.
The constitution states that “no one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances”.
In court papers the city “emphatically denied” having acted unlawfully. An affidavit by anti-land invasion unit head Richard Hayward argued the structures which were demolished “were not homes”, that they were “unoccupied” and erected during a blitz land invasion on January 7.
Magardie said the unit had no legal right to define whether a structure was a “home” or not.