CoCT ‘ready’ to contest case seeking to halt evictions & occupied land removals

The Legal Resources Centre alongside the South African Human Rights Commission has filed court papers, seeking to urgently interdict all forms of eviction.

A screengrab from a video taken on 1 July 2020 in which Cape Town law enforcement officials evict a naked man from his Empolweni home in Khayelitsha.

Editors' note: This article has been edited to clarify that the Legal Resources Centre is attempting to interdict cases including people executing land invasions as well as evictions from homes. A previous version of this article stated only evictions.

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town on Sunday said it was ready to contest a court case seeking to halt all evictions and removal of people from land they've occupied.

Under the lockdown regulations, evictions are not permitted, but landlords can obtain eviction orders, which can then be acted on when lockdown is lifted. The minister of human settlements has repeatedly affirmed illegal land invasions and occupation will also not be tolerated under lockdown regulation.

The Legal Resources Centre, alongside the South African Human Rights Commission, has filed court papers, seeking to urgently interdict all forms of removal in those instances.

The move was sparked by the forced removal of a naked man in Khayelitsha last week. His structure was among those illegally erected on municipal land.

Video of the incident was captured on cellphone camera and quickly went viral, causing nationwide outrage.

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato said the Legal Resources Centre's application is tantamount to asking for a blanket legalisation of land invasions

He said the city had already lost over 350 hectares of land in the last two years due to land invasions.

“We believe we have a duty to protect our land. We follow due procedure; we believe we act within the confinements of the Constitution of the country. The land invaders, with the NGOs supporting them, do not understand the role the city in that regard and they believe that the city is acting illegally by breaking down structures.”

The matter will be heard in court on Wednesday.

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