Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has been threatened with legal action after it recently evicted inhabitants of an informal settlement in Laudium allegedly without a court order.
Displaced victims of the eviction are pinning their hopes on the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) after their homes were destroyed unlawfully.
Their legal representative, Debra Rabuda, said the organisation was planning on taking the metro to court on an urgent basis.
Rabuda said they had written to the City of Tshwane alerting it to the illegality of evicting people without a court order.
According to her, should the City continue to ignore the letter and fail to come up with amicable solutions for the families rendered homeless, the LHR would be left with no option but to lodge an urgent court application.
“We will be asking the City to provide them with temporary houses because they conducted illegal evictions that rendered them homeless. We will also request the courts for constitutional damages looking at what property was lost during the unlawful eviction,” she said.
Rabuda said that according to the law those facing eviction had to be offered alternative accommodation.
She explained that the City should have approached the courts for an eviction application in line with the prevention of illegal eviction or unlawful occupation Act.
“Section 26, subsection 3 of the Constitution is clear that nobody may evict you without a court order.”
The LHR has also received complaints from informal settlement dwellers in Mamelodi and Booysens regarding threats by the metro to evict them.
Rabuda said: “There are another two communities that have approached us which said the City of Tshwane gave them 24 hours otherwise they are going to destroy their structures.”
According to her, communities were given notices last Wednesday to leave within 24 hours or brace themselves for evictions.
“We sent them (the City) a letter saying that what they are doing is unlawful. So if they continue we will take them to court on an urgent basis,” she said.
There were also concerns that some informal traders have had their goods confiscated by the metro police.
“There are complaints by the informal traders that they have confiscated their goods for selling on the side of the road because they said they don’t have permits to be selling,” Rabuda said.
One of the traders, she said, operated from Laudium while the other one was in Booysens.
“They are essentially treating them like criminals and essentially they are removing poor people from the city. It is a very anti-poor initiative that they are doing,” Rabuda said.
She said the LHR was still looking into the City’s by-laws considering any legal action.
“What they (the City’s metro police) do is that they take their goods and sometimes they are not given back once they have been confiscated.”
The secretary of the Tshwane Barekisi Forum, Mary Ngema, said she was unaware of informal traders who were harassed by the metro police.
“What I know is that the metro police can confiscate your goods only if you are causing congestion at the robots or you are blocking other people’s movement where you are selling.”
Metro Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba had not responded to allegations against the City at the time of publication.