Victory for Tembisa's evicted poor after court makes groundbreaking ruling
Pretoria - In another massive victory for the landless, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria not only ruled that the ousted residents of Monflorah Park could stay in peace on the land they call home in Tembisa, but it was ordered that each resident should receive emergency damages of R1 500.
Acting Judge Anthony Millar further ordered that the City of Ekurhuleni had to launch an investigation into claims by the residents that its metro police (EMPD) allegedly solicited bribes from the residents in order to leave them in peace.
The judge ordered the municipality to, within 30 days, file a report with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the National Prosecuting Authority and with the court regarding the bribery claims.
The mostly woman-headed households earlier turned to the court with the help of Lawyers for Human Rights after they had been “evicted” from the land by the EMPD once again.
To make matters worse, this time, the EMPD destroyed and burnt all their belongings. This was captured on video by one of the bystanders and handed to court. In the clip, women can be heard begging the officers to not destroy the little they had. They begged to be given time to at least salvage their belongings.
The result of this was that the women, babies and small children had to sleep on the barren ground and ashes after everything was destroyed.
The EMPD denied that the images depicted on the footage depicted this scene and it accused LHR of submitting footage of another scene.
Judge Millar on Monday went on an inspection in loco to the scene, together with the various legal teams, to see for himself how it looked. They compared the pictures to the property and it was confirmed that the footage was indeed of this scene.
Another excuse forwarded by the EMPD for their conduct was that the structures were mostly incomplete and that it thus could not be called home by the residents. Thus, the EMPD said, they did not evict anyone as they did not live there.
But the video footage showed that the structures were not vacant when the EMPD demolished it and that the residents in fact did live there.
Judge Millar declared the evictions unlawful and unconstitutional. He interdicted the municipality and the EMPD from evicting these people until they had obtained a legal eviction order. They were also interdicted from damaging the property of these residents in future.
About 50 mostly armed members of the EMPD earlier this year broke down the shacks and burnt the belongings of the households of Monflorah Park.
This after the residents claimed that they were paying the police bribes as demanded by them, to be left alone.
Leader of the group, Florah Tjabadi told the court that Tjabadi shortly after settling there, they were confronted by the EMPD, who agreed to leave them in peace if the community paid them bribes.
“Out of fear and desperation we succumbed to the demands and I managed to collect R2 000 between the families. I was horrified by having to do this,” she said.
But according to her in spite of this, their homes and belongings were still destroyed.