Eviction judgment: City of Cape Town files for leave to appeal interim interdict


The City of Cape Town has filed an application for leave to appeal an interim interdict, which prohibits it from removing illegal land occupiers without a court order.

The Western Cape High Court ruled last week that the City must have a court order to evict anyone or demolish homes.

The case was brought by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the EFF amid a string of demolitions and evictions by the City at recently-occupied informal settlements.

However, in a statement on Tuesday, Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said the interdict would cause "irreparable harm" and limit the right to protect land from invasion.

"In so doing, the court failed to consider properly, or at all, evidence put up by the City regarding the devastating social consequences of unchecked unlawful land occupations and why the remedy of counter-spoliation is necessary for the City to fulfil its constitutional obligations in respect of housing and service delivery," Plato said.

He added: "The City argues that the court erred in granting this relief, given that the remedy of counter-spoliation remains lawful and available to all other landowners, both private and public."

Remedies

Plato said one of the remedies available to landowners is counter-spoliation, which is the legal right to take back property that is being unlawfully taken away.

The SAHRC's main application, which is expected to be heard next month, asks the court to declare counter-spoliation unlawful and for common law to be amended.

"The impact of this on all municipalities and our country as a whole will be devastating," said Plato.

"Court rolls will be flooded with applications by landowners, both private and public, seeking urgent and immediate determinations of whether or not a particular structure is occupied and subject to the [Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land] PIE Act requirement of an eviction order."

He added that, by the time these matters reached court, properties would be "lost to illegal occupation".

"People who cannot afford to approach the courts would simply lose their land to illegal invasions in most instances.

"We will continue to stand up for the residents of our City and we will act to prevent land invasions until the ruling has been reviewed," Plato said.

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