JUBILANT cries of victory echoed through the streets surrounding the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court yesterday after residents of the Marikana informal settlement heard they no longer faced the threat of eviction.
More than 300 residents from Marikana, near Philippi – where close to 8 000 people have built homes on private industrial property – gathered outside court to hear if they would be evicted.
The matter had last been in court in October last year, when landowners sought an interdict to stop people building homes on the industrial property, after they had applied for repeated eviction orders since 2006.
The land grab took place on the property in 2006, preventing landowners from developing it into a mixed business and industrial area.
According to court papers, the landowners are Power Development Projects, H and T Properties, PJL Properties, Anica Delicio, Mario Salvatore Delico and Annemarie Delicio.
Access to Justice Association of Southern Africa (Ajasa), admitted as a friend of the court, took up the cudgels on behalf of the Marikana residents.
A defence attorney, who asked not be named due to a conflict of interest, told the Marikana residents outside court: “It has been settled in court. We have negotiated and agreed that no residents currently living on the land will be evicted.
“The people can stay, but no one can come and build new homes on the land.”
Ajasa attorney Sheena Jonker said after negotiating with the applicants, it was confirmed that the first applicant, Power Development Projects, had withdrawn.
“It is their property that has been overrun, so rather than being part of the application pursuing an interdict, they have to apply for an eviction order, which they are not yet ready to do,” she said.
“The only land occupied belongs to the first applicant, who has now withdrawn.
“The land belonging to the other applicants is unoccupied, and so there is now no need for any evictions or forced removals. The interdict was solely to guard the other applicants’ rights against future invasion, and we have advised the community to guard against any further settlement or extensions to dwellings,” Jonker said.
Marikana Development Forum leader Joseph Makaleni said the agreement was seen as a “massive victory”.
Jonker said Ajasa would now work with the community and the city’s human settlements department to get services.
Ses’Khona People’s Rights movement representative Xolani Joja said they would assist in preventing any further occupation of the land.
The landowners were not at court and could not be reached for comment yesterday.