Category Archives: Santosh Beharie

Court order halts demolition of shacks

Court order halts demolition of shacks
March 19, 2006

By Santosh Beharie

The Durban High Court has ordered the eThekwini Municipality to halt the demolition of homes at the Nsimbini informal settlement in Cato Manor and to stop its employees from “harassing, assaulting or threatening” residents.

The urgent interdict was granted on Friday evening after the court heard that the council had demolished at least 15 dwellings since the beginning of the week, without a court order.

The Legal Resources Centre’s Ranjit Purshotam, instructed by Nomfundo Gobodo, appeared for Mthunzi Mazibuko, who brought the application in his capacity as the organiser of the Ward 29 Residents’ Association.

In his affidavit, Mazibuko said the association was a voluntary one, formed to secure and protect the interests of the residents of the settlement.

“The other residents are not in a position to approach this court directly, as they are guarding their meagre belongings and trying to look after their children,” he said.

Mazibuko said in court papers that the settlement consisted of 280 dwellings until March 14, when demolition by council workmen began.

“I have lived in the settlement for 12 years with my children. My dwelling at the informal settlement, house G14, was demolished on March 14. I bring these proceedings to stop the demolitions which have continued since that date. My wife and my children, both girls, are now homeless,” said Mazibuko.

He said, since Tuesday, more than 15 shacks had been demolished. “Many people have been made homeless and these include single women heading households, children, disabled persons and elderly residents.”

Mazibuko alleged in court papers that Kenneth Mngadi of the municipality’s protection services visited the informal settlement earlier this week and marked most of the dwellings with large red or black crosses. Others were marked with question marks.

“He told us that he would be returning to demolish the dwellings. On March 14 he returned with his crew and began with the demolitions. I demanded from Kenneth Mngadi an order of court. He left and advised that he would be back.

When he returned he did not give us the order, but instead was accompanied by the South African Police Services. The demolitions were suspended when a press photographer arrived.

“I was not aware of any order of court that required the demolition of the shacks and none had been shown to us. I then asked the court to protect us before the municipality struck again.”

Mazibuko said he was forced to bring the application after his attorney, Gobodo, wrote to municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe on Friday afternoon, demanding that he give an undertaking that he would take steps to curb the activities of his employees and to ensure that all evictions and demolitions take place only in terms of orders of court.

Mazibuko claimed they received no response from Sutcliffe.
In Gobodo’s letter to Sutcliffe, which formed part of the court documents, she said residents had lost their moveable goods and important documents such as ID books in the process of the demolitions .

“On March 16, Vusi, one of the residents, was assaulted and injured by one of the security guards. “The security guards refused to call an ambulance and refused to take him to hospital,” she wrote.

Sutcliffe said yesterday that he was not aware of the order being granted. He also said he had not seen the letter faxed to his office.

“I can’t really comment now until I have investigated the issue,” said Sutcliffe. The municipality has until April 7 to respond to the application.