Umngeni Municipality Ordered to Provide Housing to Residents of Tumbleweed Shack Settlement

PRESS RELEASE: 12 December 2011

Issued by: Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement of SA

Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI)


Council and residents agree on relocation plans

The Pietermaritzburg High Court today ordered uMngeni Municipality to provide land, water, sanitation and temporary housing to 47 families living in the Tumbleweed informal settlement near Howick, KwaZulu-Natal. The order was granted by agreement between the residents and the municipality after the municipality applied to evict the residents to make way for a new school.

The residents are to be provided land, shelter and services by 22 December 2011, with a target date of 6 January 2012 for their relocation. The deal was negotiated after the Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement of South Africa and the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) stepped in to represent the residents. Both organisations have welcomed today’s order.

Teboho Mosikili, attorney for the residents, said "this is a great result for our clients, who would have been rendered homeless if evicted by the municipality. We are pleased that the municipality, after some initial difficulties, responded reasonably to our clients' needs. Our clients will now be permitted to live in peace and dignity.”

S'bu Zikode, former President of Abahlali baseMjondolo, which has been working with the Tumbleweed community for three years, said “we congratulate Abahlali in Tumbleweed for standing firm against the forced eviction, and we also wish to thank uMngeni Municipality for their cooperation in making sure that no one will be rendered homeless in the relocation. We wish that other municipalities, especially metros like eThekwini, can follow the example of UMngeni. If small, rural municipalities can respect and fulfil poor people's rights to housing and engage so successfully with shackdwellers, there is no excuse for metros.”

Bandile Mdlalose, Secretary General of Abahlali baseMjondolo, said “it is positive that these kinds of negotiated agreements can be made outside of court, but we are grateful that courts can be used to advance the struggles of the poor to secure our socio-economic rights in this country.”

SERI's director of litigation, Stuart Wilson, appeared for the residents in court. He was instructed by the SERI Law Clinic and Trudie Nichols Attorneys in Durban.

Read more about the case and find the court order here.

Contact details:

– Teboho Mosikili, attorney at SERI: / 072 248 2199

– S’bu Zikode, former President of Abahlali baseMjondolo: 083 547 0474

– Bandile Mdlalose, Secretary-General of Abahlali baseMjondolo: 071 424 2815