Cape Times: Judge orders metro to buy land for squatters

Judge orders metro to buy land for squatters
Cape Times
February 18, 2008 Edition 1

Anna Louw

JOHANNESBURG: In a landmark judgment, a high court judge has ruled in favour of a group of landless people living in an informal settlement near Buhle Park, Germiston.

The court ordered the Ekurhuleni Metro to buy the land that the people had occupied illegally for the past seven years and to provide them with basic services – immediately.

On Friday, Acting Justice Nazeer Cassim said the owner of the land – part of the farm Rooikop – had waited nearly four years for the law to come to his assistance, but it had failed him.

He said of the squatters, “Their plight is desperate. They have been waiting since the new democracy in 1994 for this government to come to their assistance. And the government in this case is represented by the local authority.”

The judge added that the metro had done nothing about the plight of these desperate people and that, in his view, “a court of law must interfere in appropriate cases where an organ of the state was consistently failing in its functions and obligations concerning the plight of the poor”.

The court heard that 76 households had illegally occupied the land since 2001. The number of households has grown to 214.

The property is available for purchase by the municipality for R250 000, which the judge said was a modest sum.