Klerksdorp shack dwellers face eviction

imagesAlternative accommodation has to be provided for thousands of illegal squatters occupying private land in Klerksdorp, North West, the High Court in Pretoria ordered on Friday.

The court instructed the Matlosana municipality to provide the squatters with alternative accommodation within 21 days.

Civil rights group AfriForum brought the application seeking an eviction order against the squatters living in Meiringspark.

Respondents in the court case included representatives of the Matlosana municipality and the occupants.

Despite notices of Friday’s court process, none of the listed respondents turned up at court.

Attorney Werner Human, for AfriForum, said there was no formal opposition to the proposed eviction in court, but an eviction order was not granted on Friday because of a legal technicality.

“Remarkably, we had no opposition from the occupants to oppose this proposed eviction. However, the Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act says the court cannot grant an order against people if they have occupied a certain space for longer than six months,” he said.

“Even if the people have not filed any opposing papers, even if they have not pitched up at court (to oppose the eviction). Alternative accommodation has to be provided.”

The legislation appeared to favour the occupiers, said Human.

“We will now have to serve our application to the municipality, with the order for it to provide the illegal occupants with alternative accommodation within the (next) 21 days,” he said.

The municipality was expected to present a report on the removal of the squatters to the High Court when the matter resumed in July.

Human said due to the stipulations of the act, the legal battle to evict the Klerksdorp squatters could become drawn-out. – Sapa

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