/ 10 March 2008

Anger at Cape eviction order

The Cape High Court has given the go-ahead for the eviction of several thousand residents of the Joe Slovo informal settlement to make way for a housing development.

The order, handed down by Judge President John Hlophe on Monday, followed an application by state-owned developer Thubelisha Homes, Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Western Cape minister of housing Richard Dyantyi.

Hundreds of Joe Slovo residents, who had gathered in the street outside the court, chanted angry slogans after the judgment was handed down.

Some, carrying sjamboks and knobkerries, danced in the street under the watchful eye of police.

”The state is in no way attempting to re-enact the apartheid ghost of forced removals from the past,” Hlophe said in his 51-page ruling.

”The Department of Housing is merely complying with a constitutional obligation to provide adequate housing.

”This is not a mass eviction, but a strategic relocation, working in phases according to availability of [temporary relocation areas] and even with assistance for the moving of residents.”

He said the Joe Slovo residents would not be put on the streets to fend for themselves, but would be moved to much better accommodation at the expense of the state.

Most of them would be able to return to Joe Slovo to live in newly built permanent houses, he said.

However, the residents say they will appeal against the eviction order.

Anti-Eviction Campaign coordinator Mzonke Poni said: ”We really do not welcome the judgement because we are saying there’s no way a judge can issue an order to evict more than 20 000 people without considering the impact it will have on their livelihoods.

”Right now we will have to sit down and strategise, but what we know is [that] we are going to appeal against the judgement.”

The residents are being evicted to make way for the construction of the N2 Gateway housing project. — Sapa