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18 Feb 2008 17:50
The Cape High Court on Monday dismissed an application for leave to appeal against an eviction order that compelled illegal occupiers of unfinished homes in Delft on the Cape Flats to vacate their houses by 6pm last Sunday.
The application for leave to appeal was filed at the high court last Friday, and had the effect of suspending the eviction process that had been scheduled for last Sunday. However, Monday’s dismissal of the application reinstated the status of the eviction order.
Grounds for the application for leave to appeal were that the court had erred in treating the eviction application as urgent, in the first instance, and in making the provisional eviction order that was granted final.
A third ground was that the scheduled eviction of about 1 600 people was not just and equitable, and a fourth was that the court should instead order mediation through the authorities and the illegal occupiers.
Judge Deon van Zyl ruled late on Monday that the grounds were altogether without merit and that no other court would reach a conclusion different to his.
In the course of argument, lawyers Andre Coetzee and William Booth, acting for the illegal occupiers, contended that the process of allocation of houses left much to be desired.
However, the judge said the process was totally irrelevant and that it could not be raised as a defence for the illegal occupation of the unfinished houses.
He said he had hoped to hear during the eviction proceedings the defence that the occupants were in lawful occupation and could thus not be evicted, but this had not been the case.
He said the fact that the allocation processes were not fair did not entitle the unlawful occupiers to take the law into their own hands.
Coetzee said the reality was that eviction would leave people homeless, but Van Zyl responded: “If they were homeless before their unlawful occupation, they will remain homeless. They chose to unlawfully occupy homes that had not even been completed yet.”
Earlier on Monday, the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign said: “The residents have vowed not to stop the fight. They are now preparing to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein and thereafter will take their fight to the Constitutional Court.
“The judge and African National Congress government and Thubelisha Homes are treating the residents of Delft as if they have alternative accommodation. Yet not one of them has any place to go. All of those who moved into the new houses were either homeless or backyard dwellers.”
Asked when evictions would get under way, Thubelisha general manager Xhanti Sigcawu said he was expecting to hear from the sheriff before the end of the day. “We’ll take our cue from the sheriff,” he said.—Sapa
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