Mayor, city are ‘in contempt’
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Three years after being evicted and promised permanent homes, former residents of Siyanda Informal Settlement near KwaMashu are suing the eThekwini Municipality and its officials for not complying with a high court order.
It has been lodged by 37 residents who have been temporarily housed in transit camps on Richmond Farm, as well as Abahlali Basemjondolo – the South African shack dwellers movement. They want the mayor, city manager and head of housing to be held responsible, in their official and personal capacities, to be held in contempt of court for not complying with an order granted three years ago.
The Durban High Court order, granted in March 2009, compelled the municipality to correct the misallocation of houses designated to these residents at the Khulula Housing Project, by providing them houses of the project or to provide other houses commensurate to those in the project.
The municipality was also ordered to investigate the corrupt allocation, by its employees, of RDP houses in the housing project.
As it has been three years with no word from the municipality, the Socio Economic Rights Institute of South Africa’s (Seri) attorney for the families has filed court papers calling for them to comply with the eviction order and provide an outcome of the municipality’s investigation.
The municipality must also show what steps it has taken and will take in future, to comply with its obligation to provide permanent houses.
Should the municipality not comply, the residents would make an application for them to be held in contempt of court.
Abahlali Basemjondolo chairman, Sbu Zikode, said: “The corrupt allocation of housing in Durban has been a concern for Abahlali’s members for a long time. People are dumped in transit camps, told that it is just temporary and then left to rot while other people are allowed to jump the queue.”
He said the municipality was indirectly feeding this corruption by not following the more than two-year-old order.
Seri attorney Teboho Mosikili said the municipality’s duty was to uphold and respect the law, but it had acted in a “blatantly illegal” manner.
“The mayor, city manager and director of housing have all been served with the court order, and meetings have been convened with the mayor to discuss compliance with it. Yet, nothing has been done.”
According to their court papers, available on the Seri website, one of the conditions of the eviction order was that the occupiers would be provided with permanent housing within a year.
“The deadline for doing so expired almost two years ago and nothing has been done to comply with the order,” it read.
According to resident Mthunzi Mchunu’s affidavit, they were moved to the transit camp on March 17, 2009 and were to be temporarily housed in this camp for not more than a year.
Mchunu said they feared being “dumped at the transit camp indefinitely, with no realistic prospect of relocation”.
Conditions at the camp were a far cry from what was depicted by the municipality, he said. They were promised ablution facilities, showers and running water. He said their temporary houses resembled “portacabins” which were cold in winter and hot in summer.
He also complained about no electricity and a lack of privacy.
Zikode said they had served the court papers and were awaiting a response from the municipality.
At the time of going to press, municipal spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, could not confirm whether or not they had received these papers.