PRESS STATEMENT: LHR successful in preventing further unlawful evictions in Atteridgeville

Lawyers for Human Rights have secured an urgent order halting the unlawful demolition of homes in the Road Reserve community in Atteridgeville by the City of Tshwane.

The case will return to the urgent court in the North Gauteng High Court on 23 July when LHR will seek to have the municipality rebuild the demolished homes and return confiscated property.

LHR first took on the case when the affected community members claimed the municipality had demolished their homes without proper consultation and a necessary court order.

“It is astonishing that Tshwane is still, after so many court cases, acting unlawfully and with no respect to the rights and interest of poor people. Tshwane obviously does not have the capability to see that what they demolish is actually a home for somebody and not only corrugated iron,” said LHR’s Louise du Plessis.

It appears the City had been issuing notices that cited the same non-existent legislation used in the unlawful Bronkhorspruit eviction last month. Demolitions occurred simultaneously with the issuing of the notices.

In Bronkhorspruit, the City was given a 10-day deadline in which to begin rebuilding the homes of those demolished. This has yet to be done as the deadline passes today (Monday).

“If Tshwane does not meet the requirements of the agreed court order, we will apply to the court for an urgent order of contempt and any other appropriate relief,” du Plessis added.

Initial demolitions in Atteridgeville were carried out in June with community members returning from work to find the rubble from their homes strewn across the property. They approached the MMC for Housing and Human Settlements who promised to resolve the matter and community members began rebuilding their homes.

On 9 July, their homes were again unlawfully destroyed, prompting them to apporach LHR who launched an urgent application to halt the evictions.

The families were left destitute and without any shelter or means of rebuilding their homes in the middle of winter. The community’s already precarious living conditions have become unbearable and children are unable to attend school.

South African law warrants any person against unlawful eviction. The Consitution provides that no one may be deprived of property arbitrarily or without a court order. The Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupaiton of Land Act also sets out mandatory obligations to be followed when a person is being evicted from land. 

The Tshwane council has clearly flouted these legal obligations, leaving the community in a precarious and unfair position.