The high court sitting in Grahamstown has ordered Ingquza Hill Local Municipality to build homes for 150 community members, whose homes were pulled down during a land dispute that took place in October.
This comes after thirty-six families living in New Rest‚ 5km outside Lusikisiki‚ roped the city to court after it failed to honour an erlier court order mandating the city mayor and manager to build an emergency accommodation for them . The stranded families were assisted by Lawyers for Human Rights and the Legal Resources Centre.
The Ingquza Hill municipality had denied it was involved in the demolition of the dozens of homes in New Rest but it claims were flung away by the court after residents of New Rest affirmed that it was the municipality that demolished their homes.
They also stated in court papers that municipal equipment was used in the demolitions and that municipal security personnel was present at the time.
Handing down judgement on Thursday, Judge Judith Roberson ordered the municipality to immediately build the shelters within 10 days or face the wrath of the law.
Roberson maintained that if mayor Jongintaba Mdingi and municipal manager Mluleki Fihlani fail to build the homes, both will go to prison for 30 days.
She insisted that she did not accept the municipality’s claim that it had built the structures in Slovo Park because New Rest was at the centre of a dispute between factions claiming allegiance to different traditional leaders.
Roberson added: “Their purported belief that New Rest will be invaded and further demolitions will take place… is based on vague and speculative grounds.
“The contempt [of court] is of a serious nature. It involves the failure of [the municipality and officials] to fulfil their constitutional obligations towards vulnerable persons who have been deprived of their homes and left without shelter at a place where they have established a community over many years.”
Meanwhile, the affected families have urged the city to immediately do the right thing by providing them an alternative accommodation at New Rest.