Breaking news: Abahlali baseMjondolo has won an important victory in in the Durban High Court against the MEC for Human Settlements and the eThekwini Municipality

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Abahlali baseMjondolo Press statement

Breaking news: Abahlali baseMjondolo has won an important victory in in the Durban High Court against the MEC for Human Settlements and the eThekwini Municipality

The MEC sought the confirmation of an interim order which, he said, permitted him to restrain the “invasion” of over 1000 properties within the Durban area, by directing the eThekwini Municipality and the Police to “take all the necessary steps to prevent any persons from invading or occupying the properties” to “remove any materials placed” on the properties and “demolish any structure” placed on the properties.

The order was granted in March 2013. Since then, it has been used to evict many hundreds, if not thousands, of poor people living in shacks on open land in Durban. Two of the affected communities: Sisonke Village (formerly known as Madlala Village and represented by the LRC in Durban) and Cato Crest (represented by SERI) together with Abahlali, acting in the public interest and on behalf of its members intervened in the case in order to have the interim interdict set aside.  

SERI and the LRC successfully argued that this was an eviction order in disguise, sought and given interim effect without any of the occupiers of the properties being joined to the proceedings. Eviction, the lawyers argued, is governed in law by PIE and section 26 (3) of the Constitution. They argued that in law the process prescribed by those instruments must be followed before the eviction of unlawful occupiers is undertaken. The interim order granted to the MEC was not sought or granted under PIE, nor could it be. It should therefore, the lawyers argued, be discharged.

At the hearing, the MEC sought to amend the interim order. Our lawyers attacked the amendments. The presiding Judge agreed, set aside the interim order, and refused to amend it in the manner requested by the MEC. The Judge also forced the Municipality and the MEC to pay the costs of the court action. This means that the MEC and the Municipality cannot claim that they are acting lawfully when they evict people in violation of the PIE Act and the Constitution. As with our defeat of the Slums Act in 2009 this victory is a clear setback for the long standing and ongoing attempts by the state to roll back the limited rights given to unlawful occupiers at the end of apartheid.

We wish to express our gratitude to Socio-Economic Rights Institute and the Legal Resource Centre for their hard work in and out of the court. We are always encouraged to have such high level legal representation for our movement and our struggle. Our murdered comrades – Comrade Thembinkosi Qumbela, Comrade Nkululeko Gwala, Comrade Nqobile Nzuza and Comrade Thuli Ndlovu have not given their lives in vain.

We are committed to expanding and intensifying our struggle for land, housing and dignity as the best way of honouring their efforts in the struggle for land, housing and dignity.

Today as we celebrate another victory we are also reminded of many of our members who fought and resisted evictions carried out at a gun point in this country. Makhonkwane, Nkosinathi Mngomezulu and others survived the bullets from eThekwini municipality’s land invasion unit. Their blood has not fallen for nothing.

This victory goes a long way. For example in Pietermaritzburg, where we have a growing membership, the uMsunduzi municipality has earlier this year proposed a similar order to the MEC order, in order to evict thousands of shack dwellers. We hope that today’s judgement has put a stop to all kinds of similar proposals. The rest of the province and our country has a direct benefit to this order.

Our struggle to humanise our world is carried out in our families, our communities, in the streets, in the courts and in the media. We do not only occupy land. We occupy sites of power too. We are very clear that it is only by building the power of the oppressed that oppression can be overcome.

We know that our city, eThekwini, has no regard for the rule of law. They may still continue with their eviction as they please. We will hold onto our inkani and resist all kinds of eviction in our occupations and settlements. We believe Amandla ewethu ngenkani and we will hold onto it until our humanity counts as well. It is a victory for all of us in the Republic and it is a victory for our future generation.

One thing we are worried about as we celebrate though is the risk of attack on our movement and individual leaders. Previously victories in court have been followed by violence against us from ANC members acting with state support, from the police and the land invasions unit. We have asked our comrades to be very careful as we celebrate. The izinkabi are out there. We also heard that Nqola Ngcobo, the ANC councillor who has been charged with murder of Thuli Ndlovu and rearrested for shooting other community members, recently has received a second bail in Pinetown Magistrate court. So we have all reasons to be scared as the so called councillors become hitmen.

The judgment is attached.


T.J. Ngonoma 084 613 9772

Zandile Nsibane 074 767 5706

Ndabo Mzimela 076 606 6176


Judgment in the Marikana & Sisonke Village Case