evictions suspended

THE Constitutional Court has suspended its order upholding the eviction of 10000 residents of the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa, Cape Town.

In March 2008 controversial Cape Judge President John Hlophe ruled that the Joe Slovo shack dwellers must be evicted to make way for the N2 Gateway Housing project.

But community leaders from the Joe Slovo task team took the matter on appeal to the Constitutional Court. In June the court upheld Hlophe's ruling but ordered that the Joe Slovo residents be removed in phases and placed 20km away in Delft.

The government was ordered to build a new temporary relocation area in Delft, where people would have access to water and electricity.

The government was also instructed to set up meetings with residents, who had complained of being ignored, and report back regularly to the Constitutional Court.

But on August 24 the Constitutional Court quietly issued a new order suspending the evictions "until further notice".

This after Western Cape MEC for housing Bonginkosi Madikizela submitted a report to the court saying he had "grave concerns" that the "massive relocation" might end up costing more than it would to upgrade Joe Slovo.

Madikizela also said the Constitutional Court had not made any plans for people who would be left behind in the temporary relocation area after Joe Slovo had been upgraded because under the N2 Gateway Housing Project there would not be enough new houses to accommodate all the original Joe Slovo residents.

He was also concerned that erecting a new temporary relocation area for Joe Slovo residents could be legally challenged by people who were further up on the waiting list.

Joe Slovo task team leader Mzwanele Zulu described the court order suspending the eviction as "a blessing".

"We were not happy at all about going to Delft. We have plans for Joe Slovo and we just needed this opportunity to talk to the government about development in our community," Zulu said.

Zalisile Mbali, spokesperson for Madikizela, would not reveal the contents of the expert study commissioned by the MEC but said he would be meeting the residents very soon to "find alternatives for the residents of Joe Slovo".

Chris Vick, special adviser to Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, said Sexwale thought it best that the evictions be postponed to allow the government time to consult with residents.