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Institute to release findings on inner city evictions

Plein Street is littered with the damaged belongings of residents of the Quarts Plaza building during evictions. Residents were removed from their building by members of the Red Ants. Picture: Itumeleng English/ African News Agency (ANA)

Plein Street is littered with the damaged belongings of residents of the Quarts Plaza building during evictions. Residents were removed from their building by members of the Red Ants. Picture: Itumeleng English/ African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 23, 2022

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The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (Seri) is set to release the first report in its Just and Equitable? Evictions Research Series toady.

The institute said the series would be about the way the courts adjudicated evictions in the Johannesburg inner city from 2013 to 2018.

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“It aims to review the courts’ implementation of relevant legislation (such as Section 26 (3) of the Constitution and the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (the PIE Act) and case law. In addition, the series maps the spatial distribution of evictions to highlight any wards in the inner city that face particular vulnerability,” said the institute.

It said the first research report in the series was titled “An analysis of eviction cases in the Johannesburg Central Magistrate’s Court and their compliance with the law”.

“It analyses eviction cases in 12 wards in the inner city of Johannesburg and its immediate periphery litigated at the Johannesburg Central Magistrate’s Court between 2013 and 2018 and asks whether eviction applications have been examined through the just and equitable lens, as the legislation requires,” said the institute.

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The findings illustrate that a more hands-on approach from the judiciary in adjudicating eviction applications is essential to ensure that the legal protections from arbitrary evictions offered to the poor and vulnerable are realised.

Seri executive director Zomzamo Zondo said the right of access to adequate housing was undoubtedly the most fiercely contested and frequently litigated socio-economic right in South Africa.

“This has led to the development of a wealth of progressive jurisprudence in respect of housing and evictions law. This report provides a deep insight into how the wealth of jurisprudence is applied in the magistrates’ courts and whether our country’s constitutional imperative reaches the lives of ordinary people,” she said.

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In October last year the Constitutional Court confirmed an earlier judgment by the Johannesburg High Court declaring section 13 (7)(c) of the South African Police Services Act 68 of 1995 (the SAPS Act) constitutionally invalid insofar as it allows for searches without warrants.

Seri attorney Khululiwe Bhengu, who represented the residents, said they welcomed the judgment as a necessary affirmation of the residents’ right to dignity and privacy, especially after the recent police raids in the aftermath of the unrest in July.

“It brings an end to intrusive and warrantless raids specifically targeting poor and marginalised groups,” said Bhengu.

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Related Topics:

Johannesburg Housing

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