CoCT to appeal ruling halting evictions without court orders during lockdown

The city said that this court order sets a dangerous precedent and made it almost impossible to protect property from unlawful occupation.

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.

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town intends appealing a court ruling that's stopped it from carrying out evictions without a court order for the duration of the national state of disaster.

The court challenge was brought by the SA Human Rights Commission, the Legal Resource Centre and others following several controversial evictions.

The city said that this court order sets a dangerous precedent and made it almost impossible to protect property from unlawful occupation.

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato said that since July, city authorities had removed over 55,000 illegal structures across the metro.

He said that shack demolitions were necessary to protect public land intended for services.

But the Western Cape High Court has ruled that the city, its land invasion unit or any private contractors can not evict people or take down shacks, whether occupied or not, while the national state of disaster was in place unless they had a court order.

The ruling stated that if any evictions were legally executed, authorities must act with respect for the dignity of those being evicted.

The judgment also prohibited authorities from using excessive force or confiscating material that belonged to evictees.

The city warns that this interdict could lead to an increase in land occupation attempts.

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