Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have taken the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) to task for the illegal demolition of the West Rand Squatter camp.
EFF caucus leader in Joburg council and chairperson of Joburg region Musa Novela slammed the metro police for evicting the squatters despite a motion barring the JMPD from carrying out illegal evictions.
Novela buttressed that the EFF has for long, held the policy of land grab and had encouraged people to occupy land freely. He said the fighters must fight the eviction.
“The DA can not expect us to support them on this illegal eviction because we have long been saying that people must occupy land wherever they can find it. We subscribe to the principles of ‘sofasonke’ movement. We are going to use every avenue possible to oppose this eviction,” Novela said.
Another source, who’s also the legal representative for the community, Miriam Bareki expressed disappointment with the DA-led city for the act.
She pointed out that the eviction was not ordered by the court, which further complicates the matter, adding that she will seek an intervention on behalf of the residents.
The JMPD have been evicting residents of the Jerusalem squatter camp on the West Rand over illegal occupation. Over 500 shacks have been destroyed so far.
A spokesperson for metro police officers, Chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar admitted that they are carrying out the eviction without a valid court order.
Minnaar, however, stressed that the action was enforced because occupants contravened the city bylaws which states clearly that individuals cannot erect shacks on a property not hired or purchased.
In South Africa, eviction laws got transformed after the landmark Grootboom judgment in the Constitutional Court in 2000.
Section 26 (3) of the Constitution, which is of great importance, reads: “No one may be evicted from their homes, or have their homes demolished, without an order of the court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.”
It is also worthy to note that the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (PIE) is the primary legislation governing the eviction of unlawful occupiers from their homes.
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According to the Act, proper notice of the eviction proceedings must be served on the persons concerned. It also stipulated three principles which are:
- People should generally not be evicted into a situation of homelessness.
- Evictions which might lead to homelessness are never just private disputes. They always involve the state.
- People facing eviction from their homes should be given a meaningful opportunity to take part in the resolution of the eviction dispute.
Meanwhile, the city mayor Herman Mashaba has not commented on the issue.