Court suspends eviction order

Sixty-two Johannesburg families who have been evicted from a block of flats may not be thrown out until after May 14, the Constitutional Court ruled.

Sixty-two Johannesburg families who have been evicted from a block of flats may not be thrown out until after May 14, the Constitutional Court ruled.

This is the date that their case will be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Giving reasons for a Constitutional Court judgment on December 3 suspending the eviction, Judge Thembile Skweyiya said the applicants showed they would suffer irreparable harm if the eviction order, handed down by the South Gauteng high court on November 5 last year was carried out.

"Mr William Mailula, the respondent, will not suffer any material harm, let alone irreparable harm, if the eviction order is not carried out," Skweyiya said yesterday. The families were evicted from Angus Mansions in Jeppe Street on December 15 last year, even though a high court challenge against the move was pending.

Skweyiya said that an eviction from one's home always raised a constitutional problem.

Of about 300 people who were evicted, six are disabled, seven are elderly and 79 are children, 22 of whom were receiving child support grants. There were also 31 woman-headed households.

Skweyiya said the eviction order seemed to have been granted on the basis that Mailula was, according to the high court, the lawful owner of the property.

"No regard was had to provisions of the Constitution, in particular section 26, or the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, a statute enacted to give effect to rights and values in the constitution," said Skweyiya.

He said the application of the act was not discretionary and the courts had to consider it in eviction cases.

"That the high court authorised the eviction without regard to the provisions of PIE is inexcusable," Skweyiya said. - Sapa

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