ConCourt's Saratoga Avenue eviction ruling expected
The Constitutional Court is to hand down its ruling on extending the eviction deadline of occupiers of a building on Saratoga Avenue on Thursday.
The urgent application was brought by the occupiers against the city of Johannesburg and Blue Moonlight Properties 39 (Pty) Ltd, the owner of the property.
The case arose from a judgment handed down by the same court in December 2011, which ordered the eviction of the occupiers, and ordered the city to provide certain of them with temporary accommodation by April 1.
All the occupiers were to vacate the property by April 15.
The occupiers argued that the city had not meaningfully engaged with them in respect of its obligation to provide them with suitable, temporary accommodation.
The group submitted that the city was in breach of the court order and that they would soon be rendered homeless.
As a matter of urgency, they asked that the court extend the eviction deadline by two months, to enable the city to comply and to expand the category of people who must be given temporary accommodation.
The city said it undertook to comply with the order and submitted that there was no need for an extension.
It contended that it was previously unable to engage with the occupiers because it was only recently in a position to propose a mechanism for compliance.
It maintained that the court correctly and deliberately limited the number of occupiers who were to receive temporary accommodation.
Representatives of the occupiers and the city have, in the past few days, tried to agree on a variation of the court order with regard to the dates and the people to be housed.
No power to change
Blue Moonlight submitted that the court had no power to vary the order previously granted.
It said it was not part of any agreement between the occupiers and the city and would not be bound by it.
If the application is granted, its constitutionally entrenched right not to be deprived of its property arbitrarily would be severely hampered.
Moonlight said it had already been deprived of its property for a protracted period and this would continue if litigation on the nature and quality of the temporary accommodation further ensued.
It said it would also be forced to use its property to satisfy the city’s obligation to house the occupiers in the interim. – Sapa.