Schubart Park loses evacuation appeal bid

Schubart Park residents removing their belongings. Photo: Sizwe Ndingane

Schubart Park residents removing their belongings. Photo: Sizwe Ndingane

Published Oct 6, 2011


Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) has expressed disappointment about the Constitutional Court’s dismissal of its application for leave to appeal against a Pretoria High Court ruling ordering Schubart Park residents to evacuate their flats, which had been declared too dangerous for occupation.

“This comes as hundreds of families struggle to secure emergency accommodation and the City of Tshwane continues to remove the residents’ belongings in the absence of a court order or legal mechanism to do so,” LHR’s Jacob van Garderen said.

The Constitutional Court dismissed the application as it was “not in the interest of justice to hear it at this stage”.

The council evacuated the Schubart Park buildings last month after service protests by a group of residents, which got out of hand. Police stepped in.

The council then gave an undertaking that the residents could move back in once police had declared the situation safe. But a refusal to let the residents return to their flats prompted LHR to lodge an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court, ordering the council and the police to allow them back.

Several safety experts called by the council to testify in the application told Judge Bill Prinsloo that the building was unsafe.

The judge found it was too dangerous for the residents to return and turned down the application. The council meanwhile told the court that emergency accommodation would immediately be made available. This did not materialise for various reasons and the residents were for some time forced to live in the streets.

The council said it was trying its best to accommodate them.

Executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa this week said the council had so far provided 400 families with alternative accommodation.

Structural engineers will also inspect the building to determine whether it should be demolished or refurbished.

But Van Garderen said that by Monday – more than 10 days after the “evictions” – the council had only provided 180 units.

“About 70 of these are single rooms, expected to accommodate entire families.

“The two shelters made available by charity organisations cannot accommodate families and require the people to leave the premises during the day.

“It is unclear how long these shelters will be available. Families have been split and others have been living in vehicles.”

LHR would now approach the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal, he said.

This process is, however, expected to take months and it is uncertain where the residents will live in the meantime, said Van Garderen. - Pretoria News

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