Cape Town - An inquiry investigating the removal of people and structures from Sanral-owned land in Cape Town reprimanded the company on Tuesday for throwing people out onto the street.
Attorneys for the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) had testified about the circumstances leading to the removals in Lwandle on June 2 and June 3 through an interdict.
Sanral attorney Fiona Bester explained that the “tipping point” for getting the interdict was when the city's human settlements director sent a notice to the regional Sanral office on January 22 stating it had 14 days to rectify the situation or be liable for all legal costs.
Inquiry head, advocate Denzil Potgieter, said Sanral was not a private property owner and could not act as such.
“Sanral is a state-owned company.... so it doesn't behove Sanral to allow itself to be put into a position where it throws a large number of people out on the street in the beginning of winter,” he said.
“Why does it adopt a supine attitude when it comes to a situation which is obviously going to result in an emergency, obviously going to have people out on the street? I can't understand that.”
Potgieter said that Sanral should have asked the city to remove people from the site if it had been such an issue. He said it was clear the city had not done so because it would have had to consider a relocation spot.
Fellow Sanral attorney Shaun Hornby said that the land invasion was out of control between the granting of the interdict, on January 24, and June.
He said that Sanral's interdict would have been imposed in April or May had the public order police not been busy with elections and parliamentary activities.
“But you definitely couldn't send in the Sheriff with (their) own security and expect them to sort it out,” Hornby said.
The inquiry had earlier heard submissions from the Sheriff of the High Court for the region, who apologised for the impact the removals had on residents. He said he would have done things differently if given a second chance.
Potgieter said the first hearings were now closed and that the inquiry would proceed to Nonzamo, near Strand, on Wednesday to take statements from removed residents.
The next round of hearings in the area would be announced shortly.