Concourt to rule on Slums Act

The Constitutional Court will hand down judgment on Wednesday in a case about the constitutionality of a provincial law dealing with land tenure.

The Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA, an association working for the improvement of living conditions of shack dwellers, has argued that the current law should deal with housing matters.

The law is called the KwaZulu-Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act, 6 of 2007.

The High Court dismissed its application to declare certain provisions of the act unconstitutional, causing it to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

The association, with a 20 000-strong membership, argued that the act does not deal with housing, but with land and land tenure - matters that fall outside the legislative competence of the province.

It also argued that a section of the act that requires owners of property and municipalities to evict unlawful occupiers in certain circumstances was inconsistent with section 26(2) of the Constitution.

This section obliges the State to take reasonable measures to achieve the right of access to housing.

Also, the association argued that the wide discretion given to municipalities under the Act with regard to the upgrading of certain settlements, eviction of certain unlawful occupiers, and provision of alternative accommodation for people who have been evicted, was unconstitutional.

The Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA said the act was in conflict with the National Housing Act read with the National Housing Code.

But the respondent, the premier of KwaZulu-Natal, said the legislation was within the competence of the provincial legislature and constituted a reasonable response to the housing conditions in KwaZulu-Natal. - Sapa

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