Pretoria - In yet another battle for the poor to obtain a roof over their heads, the Lawyers for Human Rights’ Land, Housing and Property Rights Unit was in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria this week, representing a community of about 400 households. The community, known as Kanana Village, is fighting eviction by a private owner who bought the land.
The Kanana Village was established 21 years ago at the farm Kameelzynkraal, Pretoria East. The then owner of the farm invited families who were left homeless by unlawful evictions to come and occupy part of the farm.
The farm owner had plans to formalise the community. However, in December 2005 he died before he could do so.
In March 2006 the property was sold to Summer Seasons Trading, the current owner.
Lawyers for Human Rights said the new owner knew the position and status of the farm when he bought it.
In 2011, the new owner brought an eviction application against the community. In his papers before court he stated that he brought the application just to evict the community.
“He does not mention any other reason/s why he needs the piece of land. His eviction order was granted, and the eviction process was postponed indefinitely,” Louise du Plessis, a lawyer at Lawyers for Human Rights, said.
Lawyers for Human Rights unsuccessfully appealed to the Constitutional Court. The matter returned to the high court for new eviction dates, and in this process the City of Tshwane gave notice to the owner for the expropriation of his land.
“Unfortunately, on both occasions the City of Tshwane did not follow due process, and the land owner brought an application to take these decisions on review. Although courts cannot order the state to expropriate, Lawyers for Human Rights filed a counter application for an order that the municipality must follow due process in expropriating the land owner,” Du Plessis explained.
“It would be inhumane to relocate a community so settled. We underestimate the trauma that people suffer that are forced to resettle and it is difficult to not think about forceful relocations in the apartheid era.”
She said it was a simple solution for this community to stay where they were and do an in situ upgrade.
Meanwhile, a legal battle in which officials of the City of Joburg have time and again tried to illegally evict people on land near Ivory Park is back in court today.
Earlier this month, Acting Judge Elmien du Plessis ordered the City to immediately rebuild the makeshift homes of these homeless people – mostly women-headed households and children.
Within a few days, the City is said to have yet again demolished the structures.
The City will today ask the court for leave to appeal against the judgment. Lawyers for Human Rights would oppose the application, Du Plessis said.
She said it was inconceivable that the City, on the heels of the judgment in which they were interdicted from harassing these people, once again broke down their homes.