Constitutional Court to rule on eviction order

Residents of two buildings in Johannesburg's inner city are contesting an eviction order in the Constitutional Court, their lawyers said yesterday .

Residents of two buildings in Johannesburg's inner city are contesting an eviction order in the Constitutional Court, their lawyers said yesterday .

About 300 people living in Berea's San Jose building and at 197 Main Street have lodged an application for leave to appeal against a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) decision that opened the way for the City of Johannesburg to evict them.

This is according to the Wits Centre for Applied Legal Studies, an advocate for poor people living in the inner city.

The buildings, which the city said are unsafe, are to be refurbished as part of the council's inner-city regeneration programme.

The SCA's eviction order has been suspended pending the outcome of the application to the Constitutional Court.

The Wits Centre's Stuart Wilson said: "The SCA failed to consider seriously the claims of the poor to be adequately catered for in Johannesburg's housing and urban regeneration policies."

Though the residents won the right to alternative accommodation, he said, the SCA did very little to protect the thousands of people living in similar circumstances.

"Neither did the SCA properly safeguard the residents' constitutional rights by making the execution of the eviction order conditional on genuine consultation and the provision of alternative shelter," said Wilson.

SCA judge Louis Harms said on March 26 that the city's notice to vacate the buildings because of fire and health hazards was not unconstitutional or unlawful. - Sapa

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