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WC govt backs CoCT on evictions, says interdict sets a precedent

Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers said that seeking an eviction order to act against illegal land occupations was not a viable solution.

People take their building materials away as workers (not visible), break down uninhabited shacks in Bloekombos, Kraaifontein, in Cape Town on 6 August 2020. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape government has backed up the City of Cape Town's view that an interim interdict relating to evictions sets a precedent.

The ruling handed down in the High Court this week prohibits the municipality from executing evictions without a court order during the lockdown.

The court challenge was brought by the Human Rights Commission, the Legal Resource Centre and the city intends to appeal.

The High Court has ruled the city, its land invasion unit or any private contractors cannot evict people or take down shacks, whether occupied or not, while the national state of disaster is in place unless they have a court order.

Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers said that seeking an eviction order to act against illegal land occupations was not a viable solution.

Simmers added that turning to the courts usually meant that the municipality would be obliged to find alternative accommodation for those occupiers before any eviction order was granted.

"Those who promote or perpetrate the occupation of land earmarked for human settlements development deprive some of our most vulnerable citizens, many of whom have been on the housing waiting lists for years," Simmers said.

The Western Cape government said that it had spent more than R180 million on preventing illegal land grabs and site invasions over the past fifteen months.

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