Category Archives: Tania Broughton

The Mercury: Evicting ‘land invaders’ unconstitutional.

Tania Broughton, The Mercury

Durban – A “blanket” court order which empowered police and city officials to evict “land invaders” and destroy their shacks with no notice to those affected and no judicial oversight has been declared unconstitutional.

Members of the shack dwellers organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo sang and danced victoriously outside the Durban High Court after Judge Fikile Mokgohloa’s finding was handed down on Thursday.

The Socio Economic Rights Institute (Seri), which represented Abahlali, said the judgment had national implications and sent a clear message to other municipalities and landowners seeking similar interdicts that they too were subject to the law. Continue reading

Mercury: Shack dwellers go to court for homes

Shack dwellers go to court for homes

by Tania Broughton

Three years ago a group of shack dwellers said they feared they would simply “fall off the radar” if they were forced into a transit camp so their homes could be bulldozed for a new road.

Their words have proved prophetic.

Thirty-nine families that used to live at Siyanda settlement, near Pinetown, are languishing in “atrocious conditions” at Richmond Farm transit camp – even though in 2009 a Durban High Court judge instructed the eThekwini municipality to provide them with permanent housing within a year.

That deadline passed in March 2010, and now the families have been forced to return to court. They want a fresh order giving the mayor, the municipal manager and the director of housing 60 days to act, failing which they want the errant officials to be personally held in contempt and jailed or fined.

The issue first came before court when the Transport Department applied for an order to evict 50 families from their homes, arguing that their informal settlement was standing in the way of a R550-million arterial road linking Inanda and Pinetown.

The residents cried foul, saying they had been promised two-storey brick houses in the nearby Khulula formal housing estate, but the houses had been allocated to others.

Because of this, they said, they had been forced to relocate to the transit camp to live in containers measuring just 10m².

In terms of an order granted by Judge Themba Sishi, the residents were evicted – but he also directed the municipality to provide them with formal houses within a year, “by correction of the misallocation of houses in that project” or by providing them with similar houses in other projects.

But this did not happen.

In an affidavit filed with the court, resident Mthunzi Mchunu said several attempts had been made to engage the municipality on the issue, but to no avail.

“Our main concern was that we were going to be forgotten as soon as the department had achieved its objective in removing us from the road reserve,” he said. “We feared we would be dumped at the camp. The judge carefully crafted the order. Our worst fears have been realised.”

Mchunu described conditions at the transit camp – created to hold people until they receive proper houses – as “appalling”. It had 12 toilets and 12 showers for 80 households, but only seven toilets were working. The tap for drinking and washing was located behind the toilets, and there was no refuse collection.

Mchunu added that Sibusiso Zikode, president of Abahlali baseMjondolo (the shack dwellers’ movement), had raised the matter with James Nxumalo, both in his previous capacity as speaker and his present position as mayor.

He said that Nxumalo and housing head Cogi Pather were aware of the court order and that it had not been complied with.

A copy of their order had also been served on them in November last year.

He said the officials were functionaries of the municipality who had the power and constitutional duty to ensure that the city complied with the order. They should therefore be held personally accountable for the municipality’s non-compliance.

Teboho Mosikili, an attorney at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA, who is assisting the families with their court action, said the application had been lodged in December.

Except for a notice that it was opposing the matter, no other responses had been received from the municipality.

The city’s head of legal services, Nokhana Moerane, said the matter was being dealt with by a member of her staff and she did not have any details on hand. – The Mercury

Mercury: ANC councillor ‘led xenophobic attacks’

ANC councillor ‘led xenophobic attacks’
November 13, 2009 Edition 1
Tania Broughton

ETHEKWINI ANC councillor Vusi Khoza was the “war general”, leading
January’s xenophobic attacks on foreigners living in Durban’s Albert
Park area, a survivor testified in court yesterday.

“He was the one leading the mob who were chanting that the kwerekwere
(a derogatory reference to foreigners) should go back home.

“He was the one who pointed at me and said ‘there is another one’.

“He was the one who instructed others to ‘throw this thing out of the
window’,” said Zimbabwean Eugene Madondo before Durban Regional Court
Magistrate Fariedha Mohamed yesterday.

The attack on the Venture Africa building on the night of January 4
left Zimbabwean Victor Zowa and Tanzanian Said Omari dead. They were
apparently pushed from a fifth floor window.

Madondo testified that he was also pushed out of a window but survived
after falling on one of the bodies already lying below.

Khosa and his co-accused, Sean Thabo Jacobs, Patricia Ballantyne and
Mzokuthoba Mnonyama pleaded not guilty to public violence charges,
denying that they were there that night.

Jacobs denied further charges of malicious injury to property and
attempting to murder Madondo.

No-one has been charged with Zowa and Omari’s murders.

Speaking through an interpreter, Madondo, who is in the witness
protection programme, said a group armed with knobkerries, knives and
sticks, singing and chanting that they were tired of foreigners, had
entered the building.

He described the leader as “a short man with long hair”, who he
identified as Khoza, both at an identity parade and again yesterday in

Madondo said he had ventured out of his room after hearing windows
breaking and doors being kicked open.

Khoza was standing with a woman in the passageway.

“He pointed and said ‘there is another one’. The woman said ‘hit him’
three times.”

At that point a man he identified as Jacobs hit him on his head with a
knobkerrie, while others punched him in his stomach and pulled his

Khoza then instructed that he be thrown from a window.

“They tried to push me through the window but I held on to the frame.
They were hitting me and pushing me out, head first.
“I knew I was going to die because I could see two motionless bodies
down there already.

“I grabbed on to a pipe next to the window, but the guy with the
knobkerrie hit it and it broke. I fell and landed on top of one of the
bodies,” he said.

He crawled to a nearby storeroom where he lost consciousness and awoke
in hospital, where he stayed for more than a month recovering from a
broken leg, head injury and fractured spine.

Madondo said he entered the witness protection programme after
receiving threats, including one that he would be “triple crippled” if
he co-operated with the police.

Defence advocate Mike Mthembu said Madondo had said “he looks similar
to the person who was among the group” when pointing out Khoza at the
identification parade.

However, Madondo was adamant that Khoza had been the mob leader.

“They deny being part of the group,” Mthembu said, to which Madondo
replied: “It’s all lies.”

The trial has been adjourned until February next year.

Mercury: Court orders immediate probe – Progress for shack dwellers in housing row

Court orders immediate probe
Progress for shack dwellers in housing row

March 09, 2009 Edition 1

Tania Broughton

A Durban High Court has ordered an immediate investigation into the “corrupt allocation” of housing at a low-cost estate in northern Durban, and wants a report on it in two months.

Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, Nandi Mandela, is named in court papers as being involved in the alleged scam because she is a director of the consultancy hired by the eThekwini Municipality and the provincial Department of Transport to do the allocation.

In a “structured interdict”, Judge Themba Sishi also wants reports every three months on the conditions in a nearby transit camp, to where those who lost out on the formal houses are now being forced to move because their shack settlement is in the path of the construction of a major arterial road.

And he has ordered the municipality to provide permanent housing to those affected in a year.

The issue was raised late last year when the transport department brought an urgent application to evict the 50 families who live in the Siyanda settlement in KwaDabeka so that their homes could be bulldozed to make way for the R550 million MR577 which will cross the Mgeni River to link Inanda and Pinetown.

The residents fought back. They said that they had been promised brick, “better-than-RDP” houses at the nearby Khulula formal housing estate by Mandela’s Linda Masinga and Associates in 2005.

They said that those houses had now been given to “outsiders”- a fact conceded by Mandela – and they were now being forced to move to an “unsightly and uninhabitable” transit camp about 1.5km away.

They said transit camps were like concentration camps with razor-wire fencing, spotlights, single entrances and 24-hour police guards. Residents were often highly controlled in these places, as if they were in prisons.

They would be forced to live in containers with no access to decent amenities, and would then simply “fall off the radar” and be forgotten, like others who had been forced to move to such camps.

While the shack dwellers were refusing to move, Durban’s Legal Resources Centre drafted new court papers suggesting the “structured interdict”.

At a hearing in the judge’s chambers on Friday, the interdict was made an order of court with the consent of the transport department. Although named as a party to the proceedings, the municipality remained silent on the issue.

In terms of the order, the Siyanda families agreed to move to the camp by March 17.

S’bu Zikode, of shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, which supported the residents in their court battle, said the state’s compliance with the orders would be monitored.

“We also insist that the investigation into corruption must be done independently,” he said. “This is major progress. There is now judicial oversight over the camps and claims of corruption.”

However, he said, problems were already looming because a site visit to the camp at the weekend had revealed that there were only 23 rooms available for the 50 families, no clean running water, and blocked toilets, despite assurances given to the judge by transport department lawyers.

“The judge was given wrong information. We will be contacting our lawyers on Monday to discuss the way forward,” said Zikode.

Mercury: Shack dwellers step up court battle

Shack dwellers step up court battle

February 17, 2009 Edition 1

Tania Broughton

SHACK dwellers in KwaZulu-Natal have launched a two-pronged court battle in their attempt to get “slum eradication” legislation scrapped.

And they now want the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal to consider the legality of the KwaZulu-Natal Slums Act.

The shack dwellers, under the auspices of Abahlali baseMjondolo, were dealt a blow last month when KZN Judge President Vuka Tshabalala found the Act to be “fair” and even applauded the province for dealing with slums and slum conditions.

But the movement has now applied for direct access to the Constitutional Court and, as a back-up should this fail, has made an application for leave to appeal against Judge Tshabalala’s judgment to either the full bench of the Natal Provincial Division or the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The movement insists that the Act allows for large-scale forced evictions, with little or no consultation. It also claims that many of its provisions are in conflict with present housing and eviction laws.

But Judge Tshabalala found differently. He said the Act would make things “more orderly” and should be given a chance.

In its application for leave to appeal, the movement now says the judge was wrong and he ought to have found that the Act will give municipalities an open-ended discretion as to how to deal with informal settlements, and this will lead to a violation of fundamental rights.