CALS: City of Johannesburg Illegally Evicts Families Two Families in Two Weeks

Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Johannesburg, 11 April 2008


Council Ordered to Provide Alternative Accommodation and Rebuild Shack

The City of Johannesburg has been ordered to find alternative accommodation for a family of four within a week, after it illegally evicted them from a derelict house in Houghton. This is the second time in two weeks that the Johannesburg High Court has ordered the City to compensate families it illegally evicted from their homes.

Yesterday High Court Judge RS Mathopo ordered the City of Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Property Company (“JPC”) and Derrick Kinder Security Group CC to provide alternative accommodation to a family of four they illegally evicted from a derelict house in Houghton Estate, Johannesburg. Wonderboy Nondzaba, his wife Christina and his children Vuyani (5 years) and Zanele (2 years) had been sleeping on a mattress under a bush opposite the house for five days before they approached the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) for legal assistance.

Papers filed at the High Court stated that many of the family’s possessions – including their children’s clothes – had been stolen in the days after the eviction, which was executed by five security guards “and a large fierce dog” on 31 March 2008.

“The security company said it was acting on the instructions of the City of Johannesburg Property Company, which is wholly owned and controlled by the City of Johannesburg” said Stuart Wilson, Head of the CALS Litigation Unit, a department of the Wits Law Clinic.

A CALS Researcher, Kate Tissington, confirmed that the eviction had been carried out without a court order on the instructions of the JPC and the Ward Councillor for the area.

Last week, on 2 April 2008, Acting Judge Pandya ordered the City of Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (“JMPD”) and an employee of the City in his personal capacity, to provide land to and rebuild the shack of Nomvula Dlephu, her husband Paulus and their fourteen year-old son, after officers of the JMPD evicted them from their home and destroyed their shack in the Tsepisong West Informal Settlement. The eviction took place without a court order, about a week after a faxed notice to vacate on a JMPD letterhead, and signed by the City’s area manager for the settlement, was delivered to the property.

“These notices have absolutely no validity in law and it is of concern that some employees of the City of Johannesburg seem to think that they do” Wilson said. “The City’s action in the Dlephu case is particularly outrageous, since the City had previously granted Dlephu and her family formal written permission to reside in the settlement and a representative of the City had pointed out to her the very stand from which she was removed.”

“The employees and councillors involved in both of these incidents should be disciplined”, Wilson said, “and the City should take steps to ensure that its employees act within the law.”

Teboho Mosikili, a lawyer in the CALS Litigation Unit added “Evictions by the state are not normally lawful unless there is meaningful engagement with the occupiers concerned, a court order is obtained and alternative accommodation is provided to those who need it. It is deeply concerning that all three of these requirements were flouted in the Ndlephu and Nondzaba matters”.

CALS acknowledges the assistance of Advocates Steven Budlender and Nigel Redman of the Johannesburg Bar, who appeared in the Nondzaba and Dlephu matters respectively.

For more information, contact Stuart Wilson on 072 265 8633