Cape Town, Parliament, 16 July 2020 – The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Ms Faith Muthambi, welcomes the judgement by Judge Salie-Hlophe in the Western Cape High Court today in the matter between the Community of Hangberg, Ginola Phillips and the City of Cape Town and Mayor Dan Plato.
The Minister of CoGTA, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, declared a national state of disaster in terms of section 27 (1) of the Disaster Management Act due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which required a national lockdown to restrict movement to flatten the curve, something which was necessary. The lockdown regulations were amended in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act dated 16 April 2020 [Regulation 11CA] which states that “no person may be evicted from their place of residence, regardless of whether it is a formal or informal residence or a farm dwelling for the duration of the lockdown”.
The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, whose mandate is to conduct oversight over municipalities, had become aware of illegal evictions happening in the Western Cape during lockdown and subsequently called Premier Alan Winde and Mayor Dan Plato, to come and account to the committee. There is a follow up meeting pending the finalisation of the disciplinary hearing of the four Metro Law Enforcement officials who were in involved in the eviction of Khayelitsha resident, Bulelani Qholani.
In welcoming today’s judgement where the City of Cape Town has been ordered to rebuild Ginola Phillips’s wendy house on the same spot where it was twice demolished by the City in Hangberg, Hout Bay, within 48 hours. The Chairperson of the CoGTA committee, Ms Faith Muthambi, said: “Covid-19 has brought with it untold hardships and challenges to communities all over the world, and it has not left South Africa unscathed in terms of increased unemployment and poverty.
We must take cognisance of Judge Salie-Hlophe’s judgement where she says,
“the actions of the respondents in repeatedly demolishing the home of Mr Phillips is a sore and painful reflection of a failure to appreciate the plight of our poor communities, the hardships suffered and what can probably be described as objectifying the indigent as having no individual rights worthy of recognition”.
We appeal to municipalities across the country to follow the legal process of evictions under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, no.19 of 1998. However, during lockdown we must remain humane and considerate, knowing that our country is in a crisis and evictions must cease.
We urge all South Africans to abide by the lockdown regulations as they are amended, to always wear a mask when they go out in public and sanitise often and stay at home as far as possible.