SA Human Rights Commission steps in to help evicted Lawley residents

Thiathu Mamafha who had his two room shack demolished waits in line.
Thiathu Mamafha who had his two room shack demolished waits in line.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Residents whose homes were demolished during a dramatic eviction in Lawley can now have some hope after the SA Human Rights Commission intervened to help them get resettled.

On April 16, Red Ants demolished many houses and shacks in Lawley, leaving many people homeless. The demolition sparked a national outrage as the government’s regulation stated that no one is allowed to evict people during the lockdown.

The people lived in informal settlements called Kokotela and Lakeview in Lawley.

Buang Jones told Sowetan that the commission met with the city and the lawyers representing evicted people to find a solution.

“We agreed to embark on a process to verify personal circumstances and details of people who were residing in Lawley at the time of the demolitions and evictions.  This process seeks to obtain the details of those whose houses or shacks were demolished. We are trying to see how the city can assist them. The city will also provide alternative accommodation to those who have been left destitute.

“From the list that the city will obtain today, the city will then see if it cannot resettle or move people to an approved municipal site. At the moment, the land they occupied is owned by the Gauteng department of human settlements. The city has agreed to put a hold on evictions and demolitions and we are overseeing this process to ensure that the residents are not prejudiced,” Jones said.

After the news broke down, two separate cases were brought before the South Gauteng High Court, but were both dismissed. At the time of the Human Rights Commission intervention, the law firms were planning to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.

On Wednesday, victims of the demolition queued outside Lenasia South City Power depot where they were screened to see if they qualify to receive alternative accommodation.

One of the victims, Thiathu Mamafha, who is disabled, is relieved with the help that the commission has facilitated.

“I am very happy because I really need a place to stay. I am currently living with my wife’s family and it is not easy,” Mamafha said.

Mamafha arrived at the Kokotela informal settlement in Lawley in October. He built a three-room shack for himself as he could not afford to pay rent where he stayed.

On the day of the eviction, a neighbour called to alert him of the Red Ants and by the time he arrived none of his belongings were still there.

Lucky Mhlanga, one of the lawyers representing the victims, said there was no point to go to court at the moment

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