Western Cape High court dismisses move to get Judge Slingers to recuse herself
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Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court has dismissed the recusal application brought by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for Judge Hayley Maud Slingers to recuse herself from the contentious City land invasions matter.
Commissioner André Gaum made the application stating that Slingers’ husband was an employee of the first respondent (the City), and that she did not disclose that fact to the parties.
The High Court was set to hear arguments around the constitutionality of counter-spoliation - a common law right that allows landowners to forcibly take back possession of their property from invaders.
After judges and advocates spent almost five hours discussing the recusal application on Monday, the announcement of its dismissal was made yesterday, and the City presented their case.
The case involves the City’s controversial eviction of Bulelani Qolani from his Khayelitsha shack in June last year and was being heard by three new judges – Justices Vincent Saldanha, Mokgoatji Dolamo and Slingers.
The City noted the applicants’ unsuccessful application for the recusal of one of the judges. Gaum said they would decide whether to appeal that after judgement.
Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers said they abide by the recusal finding of the court and were pleased that the actual matter has commenced again.
"We’re looking forward to making our submissions, as we believe that the common law remedy of counter-spoliation will assist greatly in stemming land invasions," said Simmers.
He said it remained critical for landowners to be empowered to act immediately against those types of activities.
EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego said they were waiting in anticipation for the outcome of the process. Xego said indeed the City with it's provincial government support were wasting taxpayers money on a simple losing battle.
“What justice has proven so far is that sanity prevails in our courts. But time will tell if the DA would make it with their anti-Black agenda,” he said.
Jonty Cogger, an attorney for the housing advocacy group, Ndifuna Ukwazi, said it was clear that the City was unable to address the overwhelming need for housing but instead of prioritising resources towards making the promise of housing deliver a reality, it has adopted the Unlawful Occupation by-law that criminalises unlawful occupiers.
Cogger said people who occupy public land do not do so out of choice but out of desperation and need.
“Empowering law enforcement to illegally evict, search without a warrant, and confiscate someone's home is a knee-jerk reaction that will fail to address the root causes of inequality and meaningfully contribute towards a more fair and equal city,” said Cogger.