Court victory for shack dwellers

Court victory for shack dwellers

Issued by the Freedom of Expression Institute

27 February 2006

Embargo: For Immediate Release

About an hour ago, the Durban High Court announced a judgement on the application by Abhlali Abahlali Base Mjondolo, Durban’s shack dwellers movement, for an interdict against the eThekwini Municipality. Abahlali wanted the court to allow its march to proceed and for the police not to disrupt it.

The judge was furious at the eThekwini Municipality for its harassment of shack dwellers in attempting to express their legitimate right to gather and of free expression. The judgement included the following salient points:

* The judge ruled that the Abahlali march was and remains legal;
* The police have been interdicted from hindering the march or in any way preventing it from taking place;
* The judge has ordered the City to pay punitive costs to Abahlali and set down the 13th March 2006 for a hearing to determine what the amount is that the City will have to pay.

The Durban High Court judgement is a victory not only for Abahlali Base Mjondolo but also for the right of poor and disempowered communities to free expression through protests and demonstrations. The judgement also should be a lesson for eThekwini and all other local authorities which seek to place obstacles in the way of movements and communities which want to protest. The Durban High Court has, in expressing its displeaure at the city, made it clear that the right to gather is not subject to the whims of the metro police, city manager or any other local authority. It has also clarified that the responsibility of organisers of gatherings is simply to notify local authorities of their intention and not to seek permission for such gatherings.

For more information, call:

Na’eem Jeenah (FXI Anti-censorship programme) – 084 574 2674 / 011 403-8403

S’bu Zikode (Abahlali Base Mjondolo) – 083 547 0474

One thought on “Court victory for shack dwellers

  1. Pingback: Banned and then Unbanned March on M.E.C. for Housing Mike Mabuyakulu at the City Hall – 28 February 2006 | Abahlali baseMjondolo

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