DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Photo: ANA/Stringer

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (Seri) has described the DA-led City and provincial government's plan to appeal a landmark court judgment ordering it to buy Philippi land occupied by more than 60 000 people as an attempt to “abdicate obligations bestowed on it by the Constitution”. 

The Marikana informal settlement land in Philippi belongs to Iris Fischer, Manfred Stock and Coppermoon Trading, who all initiated a legal battle to force the City to buy their properties, which people have occupied since 2013.

In 2017 Western Cape High Court Judge Chantal Fortuin had ordered the City to enter into good faith negotiations to purchase the land, and if negotiations failed, the court ordered the City to expropriate the land, or provide reasons why it was unable to do so.

In the Fischer and Stock cases the national and provincial department of human settlements were ordered to provide the City with funds, if it needed any, to purchase the land. 

In the Coppermoon Trading case, both departments, as well as the department of rural development and land reform, were ordered to provide funds. 
Thulani Nkosi, a senior attorney at Seri who is handling the case on behalf of Marikana informal settlement residents, said the organisation would oppose  the appeal.

He said the City, the Provincial Department of Human Settlements, and were preparing to appeal certain aspects of the judgment. 

“It is always disheartening if an entity like the City of Cape Town teams up with a provincial government to frustrate an otherwise well-reasoned judgment which is legally sound. 

"It would have been encouraging if the City was to put the same amount of effort into actually ensuring that the land was secured for our Marikana clients.
“We see the City's appeal as once again an attempt by an organ of state to try to abdicate obligations bestowed on it by the Constitution to ensure that the Constitutional rights of the poor are given effect to and are protected,” Nkosi said. 

The City’s human settlements mayco member Malusi Booi said they were awaiting a date to appear in the Supreme Court of Appeal. 

“Leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal was granted. The parties filed the record and their Hheads of Aargument, whereafter the court will allocate a hearing date. The City cannot comment further until such time as the case has been concluded,” Booi said. 

Boniswa Tiwe, for the communication directorate at the provincial Human Settlements Department, said MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela disagreed that the department failed in its Constitutional obligations. 

“The provincial government respectfully disagrees with the conclusions reached by the high court vis a vis the provincial government, both in law and in fact, and it is for this reason that an appeal to the SCA was lodged by the minister (MEC), along with the National Minister of Land Reform, the City, and the landowners – all of whom have also elected to appeal certain aspects of this judgment too,”  said Tiwe. 

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform did not respond to questions by deadline.