Daily News: Informal settlers group celebrate court triumph


Informal settlers group celebrate court triumph

October 15, 2009 Edition 1


Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement, which represents thousands of people who live in informal settlements, will slaughter two cows to celebrate yesterday’s Constitutional Court ruling that a law allowing mass evictions in the province was unconstitutional.

The group approached the Durban High Court earlier this year, challenging the constitutionality of the KwaZulu-Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Act.

The High Court dismissed the challenge and the organisation appealed to the Constitutional Court.

Yesterday the Constitutional Court granted an order declaring that section 16 of the Act was inconsistent with section 26 of the Constitution, and was thus invalid.

An ecstatic Mnikelo Ndabankulu, Abahlali spokesman, said the more than 20 000 members were thrilled.

“We will slaughter two cows and invite all our members to a celebration,” he said.

The shack dwellers argued that the aim of the Act was slum eradication through mass forced evictions.

It said sections of the Act were inconsistent with the Constitution and national law, which aimed to give people the right to housing and proposed informal settlement upgrades.

“We will only move out of the shacks to decent houses,” said Ndabankulu.

Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke noted that section 16 of the Act would make residents of informal settlements, who were invariably unlawful occupiers, more vulnerable to evictions should an MEC decide to issue a notice.

He concluded that the powers given to the MEC to issue a notice were too broad and irrational because they applied to any unlawful occupiers on any land or in any building, even if it is not a slum.

The purpose of the Act was to eliminate, or prevent the re-emergence of, slums.

Reverend Njongonkulu Ndungane, former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, welcomed the ruling.

“This indicates that what we need now is an engaged citizenry,” he said.