Evicted Empolweni residents set to rebuild after high court victory

Published Apr 18, 2020


Cape Town - Residents of the Empolweni informal settlement in Khayelitsha are anxiously waiting for their building materials to be returned after their Western Cape High Court victory on Friday.

The court ruled that the evictions of the residents whose homes were demolished by the City of Cape Town over the Easter weekend was unlawful. 

The group, who were represented by the Legal Resources Centre, will now be allowed to return to the land and re-erect their dwellings. 

According to the Legal Resources Centre, the list the court accepted was for 49 households. No other person is allowed to occupy the land or build any structures on it outside of the 49 households given permission by the court.

The court  also ruled that the City of Cape Town must return all their building material by 12pm on Monday. 

Many have been sleeping outside since their homes were demolished.

The Legal Resources Centre had argued that the City’s actions were unlawful in the current lockdown context, since the minister called for all evictions to be suspended.

On Friday, Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said: "The Western Cape Town High Court’s decision on the Khayelitsha illegal land invasion is noted. According to the judge, the City was entitled to protect its land. 

"He has made an interim ruling on humanitarian grounds and without considering the merits of the application and has allowed 49 occupiers to re-erect structures. 

"The merits of the application will be decided after the lockdown ends. The City is allowed to remove any new illegally erected structures with immediate effect. Land invasions are illegal. The judge acknowledged this aspect and emphatically denounced land grabs."

Nozakuthini Bhatyi, a dweller, said they received the news that they got the land that they had been fighting for.

"Law enforcement had been beating and terrorising us. Forty-nine homes will now be built on this land as of tomorrow. As you can see our toilets have already been erected over there. 

"Going to the toilet was a struggle because we had to go in the open field, with even the men looking at us, so it was hard. Some of us have knee problems and that made it difficult to get up. 

"I am very happy to see that it was not just empty words and empty promises that we received. We can see them working already on the toilets and tomorrow our houses will be erected. I am really happy," she said.

Nozakuthini Bhatyi speaks about the court victory. Video: Ayanda Ndamane / ANA

African News Agency and IOL

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