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Rosettenville residents defend eviction that would leave them homeless

- Lee-Anne Bruce

CALS represents residents from Rosettenville who will be left homeless if an eviction order is granted against them without alternative accommodation in place

[UPDATE: Acting Judge Shaida Mahomed adjourned proceedings and indicated she will issue directives on further issues she would like the parties to address] 

On Thursday 3 March 2022, the High Court in Johannesburg is set to hear an eviction case affecting a group of residents from Rosettenville. The residents, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, include women and children who would be left homeless if the eviction were granted. We argue that this would not be in the interests of justice.

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) represents a group of residents from Rosettenville, Johannesburg, who have faced eviction from their homes at least four times in the last five years. During that time, they have had limited to no access to water and electricity and have successfully challenged this form of constructive eviction. The most recent eviction application against them will be heard on Thursday, 3 March by the High Court in Johannesburg.

We understand that there are many competing rights and interests in a matter like this one. The owners of a property have the right to use and access that property. Yet, the law around evictions is clear: no-one may be evicted from their home if they will be left homeless. In this case, our clients have been left particularly vulnerable after losing their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures. They would not be able to afford other accommodation, and the City of Johannesburg has so far been unable to ensure that they would be granted emergency housing.

We are therefore asking the Court not to grant the eviction, or to grant it only on condition that alternative accommodation can be found for the residents who would otherwise be left homeless. In January last year, the High Court ordered that the City of Johannesburg must undertake a verification of the residents’ personal circumstances and that the Department of Social Development must be joined to the matter.

“Being evicted from your home inevitably affects your right to human dignity,” says Vuyolethu Mntonintshi from CALS. “Being evicted onto the street has a further impact on many other rights like freedom and security and the rights of children to shelter and protection. Being evicted during a pandemic infringes on all of these rights and further endangers health and even life.”

CALS is represented by external counsel Mluleki Marongo, who will appear for us before Acting Judge Shaida Mahomed. 

The matter is set to be heard by the High Court in Johannesburg on 3 March 2022.

Read more in our papers here.

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