NEW court Twist in shacks battle

Alex Matlala

The legal tussle involving the beleaguered Blouberg municipality and Desmond Park residents in Senwabarwana, Limpopo, has taken a dramatic twist.

This after the Pretoria high court last week set aside an order granted earlier that 67 shacks the municipality had demolished early this year be re-erected.

Attorneys representing the residents had to go home disappointed when the court dismissed almost all of their demands. The attorneys had sought an order to force the municipality to re-erect the shacks, pay for legal costs incurred, and the arrest of all council members for defying the court order to rebuild the shacks in a stipulated time.

The judgment by Judge Botha called for the withdrawal of the warrants of arrest issued against all the council members for defying the court order to rebuild the shacks. Botha, however, ordered the municipality to lay concrete floor slabs for all the 67 shacks, " unless the owner of the shack specifies in writing that she or he does not require the concrete slab".

Municipality communication manager Nhlahla Mashele said: "The decision to set aside the demands was a serious relief for the municipality. We are already in motion of complying with the court order and we believe both the municipality and the community are relieved."

Mashele said the municipality had already spent R180800 to rebuild the 67 shacks on the disputed land. Desmond Park residents' spokesman Ludwick Hlahla said they welcomed the decision about the concrete slab.

The protracted tussle between the municipality and the residents started in January when the municipality forcefully demolished the shacks. Enraged residents dragged the municipality to court which ruled in their favour. The court ordered the municipality to rebuild the shacks in March but in vain.

Warrants of arrest for all council members were later issued after the municipality failed to erect the shacks.