Durban - People who do not want to move out of an informal settlement in Clermont to make way for a housing development have been served with eviction notices.
They have been given 30 days to vacate the land.
On Friday, the Durban High Court granted the order in favour of the eThekwini Municipality against 19 residents who the city claims have been holding up the housing project.
The residents do not want to move into transit camps while the development is under way and would prefer free-standing houses to the block of flats planned.
The residents said that they were unhappy with Judge Isaac Madondo’s ruling and have vowed to appeal.
Residents have complained that relocation to the transit camp would compromise their children’s education because they would have to look for new schools. They have also complained that in transit camps they would have to share facilities while construction is under way.
The municipality went to court following a showdown between the residents and the construction company which had to abandon work after they were locked out of the property by the residents.
Judge Madondo said 1 400 other residents had agreed to move to the transit camps.
He said the problem of sharing resources would only be temporary and would allow completion of the development.
“The government saw the need to provide housing to prevent the mushrooming of shacks which poses health and safety hazards. So there must be strong reasons for so doing, arguments can not be based on flimsy reasons to object to the development,” Judge Madondo said.
Defence lawyer Muzi Mzila had argued that residents had been promised that they would be given freestanding houses once the project had been completed. But the municipality had reneged on their promise. He also said the small units were not suitable for the residents who had large families.
Mzila said women living in units would be vulnerable to crime and violence. But the lawyer acting for the municipality, Narisha Bhagwandeen, said her client would provide security for the residents. She also denied that the municipality had promised beneficiaries freestanding houses.
Judge Madondo said he was satisfied with Bhagwandeen’s arguments and it was constitutionally correct for the municipality to provide housing.
But that obligation had been obstructed after residents padlocked the gate to the fenced area and prevented workers from entering. The judge also dismissed the residents’ demand for free-standing houses. He said owing to the small area there was no way they could be built.
Judge Madondo said more than 1 400 residents had agreed to the development but only few had held the project to ransom.
The judge allowed residents up to a month to relocate after Bhagwandeen had called for a two-week deadline for moving.
A resident, Zama Ngidi, 47, who was disappointed with the court ruling told the Sunday Tribune outside court that they wanted to appeal against the decision. She said houses promised to them were too small for their large families.
“I do not want to leave my properly built home and stay in a tin house. I have invested a lot in my house. It is not a shack as was alleged inside. Most of us have solid houses not just canvas and mud,” Ngidi said.