Cape Town - The Supreme Court of Appeal has ordered that the “illegal” evictions by the city in the Marikana informal settlement be referred back to the Western Cape High Court for a “proper” hearing.

It will give its reasons later.

This came after the city’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit demolished 47 structures along Sheffield Road in January in the Marikana informal settlement near Philippi, leaving residents, including children, homeless.

The matter was taken to the Western Cape High Court by Marikana residents where Judge Patric Gamble ruled in favour of them. Judge Gamble said the move to evict residents reminded him of apartheid.

The city appealed against the judgment in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The Legal Resources Centre represented the Marikana residents. Its spokesman Sheldon Margadie said:

“To say we will or will not appeal the decision will be premature at this stage. At the moment we are studying the judgment and we will consider what to do after we have consulted with our client residents.

“Our clients feel like this case has been going on for a long time and they want to see an end to it. They feel that the city is avoiding responsibility about what it had done to their homes,” he said.

Margadie said the city has always wanted to see the matter go away because it claimed there were no belongings inside the structures when they were destroyed.

“They said the structures were empty, but this is not the truth as people were left with nothing. If this matter goes back to the High Court, about 40 witnesses will be cross-examined and this could last for a minimum of six months,” he said.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said: “The city welcomes the order by the Supreme Court of Appeal and is vindicated in bringing the appeal on the matter pertaining to the illegal land invasion in Marikana. The city has always been of the view that Judge Gamble was wrong in his approach and this was confirmed today by the Supreme Court. The court indicated that Judge Gamble’s findings were not supported by the evidence led before him.”

She said Supreme Court judges suggested strongly that Judge Gamble did not have the power to make the finding against the city as he did.

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Cape Times