It was Abahlali baseMjondolo versus Bonela residents outside the Durban High Court as the court interdict dispute between eThekwini Metro and Abahlali representatives went on inside. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane

Durban - The Durban High Court on Friday asked legal teams involved in the dispute between shack dwellers and authorities to come to an agreement between themselves over land invasions affecting areas around Durban.

Judge Mohini Moodley postponed the case until further notice.

She told advocates representing Abahlali baseMjondolo on the one hand and the eThekwini Municipality, and the provincial Department of Human Settlements on the other, that they should “put a structured arrangement in place to allow people residing in shack areas to continue to enjoy protection from eviction without a court order”.

The municipality and the provincial department filed replying papers arguing that an interim interdict protecting named shack dwellers from evictions without a court order, should not be made permanent.

A number of named shack dwellers, in seven informal settlements around Durban, have been protected by the ruling since July.

The judge added that the lawyers’ agreement should also allow the MEC to exercise her rights and for any removals to be done in a safe way.

While court proceedings were under way, protesters supporting the shack dwellers demonstrated on Margaret Mncadi Avenue (formerly Victoria Embankment) with only the south-bound traffic between them and a smaller gathering of people from formal residential areas who have been at odds with them. 

The latter crowd had withdrawn by lunch time.

While this conflict has happened in Bonela, Cato Manor and Mariannridge, the application was specific to the Bonela area, adjacent to Blinkbonnie Road, which forms a green lung for an established residential area.

The Bonela clash saw shack dwellers and alleged land-grabbers rampage through the streets, smashing residents’ water meters, blocking roads with concrete and burning tyres. Some also threatened to petrol-bomb houses.

Terrified residents cowered in their homes, shots were fired in the area and police eventually responded to restore order.

For Abahlali baseMjondolo, the court proceedings were a relief.

“We always win in court, now it's up to the politicians to not violate the court order,” said organisation representative, Ndabo Mzimela.

However, Sham Dhanpaul, from the Moorton Community Policing Forum, one of the affected areas, called the outcome of Friday's proceedings “unacceptable”.

“The shacks will go up on a daily basis,” he said.

“All evidence that a forest was once there is slowly being cut up and burnt.”