root - August 29, 2023

Land occupiers say if they are legally evicted, they’ll get access to municipal services

Peter Luhanga 

People occupying land on the banks of the Diep River near Parklands North are excited the City of Cape Town intends to evict them as it means they will be moved to a place with humane living conditions and access to municipal services. 

This comes after the residents defied a formal notice ordering them to vacate the land, failing which eviction proceedings would be initiated under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (commonly referred to as the PIE Act). 

The land was first occupied in 2020 during the first Covid hard lockdown when they were unable to earn an income and pay rent for accommodation in Dunoon. 

The 124 informal structures were serviced with a notice to vacate the land on 24 May, but the residents, who were given 21 days to move, did not do so.

Then on Friday 25 August, City deputy mayor and mayco member for spatial planning, Eddie Andrews, said following the residents’ non-compliance with notices to vacate the land, the City was preparing legal documents to evict them. He said the notices to vacate were a precursor to commencing with formal eviction proceedings.

“The City still intends to launch a consolidated eviction application for both erven 79 and 38295 in the Western Cape High Court when all the necessary preparatory steps have been completed,” said Andrews.

The residents have welcomed the City’s eviction proceedings as they would have to comply with the PIE Act which stipulates alternative accommodation would need to be provided. 

“If they (city) evict us in terms of the law, we don’t have a problem. We don’t have water, electricity, toilets, no streets, no ambulance can reach us here. If where they will take us we have access to all these, we don’t have a problem,” said Pakama Buthongo, who was one of the people served with a notice to vacate in May.

Similarly, Songezo Mpambane said when eviction proceedings start, he hopes the City would consider relocating them to a place where there are schools, clinics, and public transport.

Nonkosinathi Mthombeni said as long as the City evicted them in accordance with the relevant evictions laws, they’d comply.

“We’d love a place where we’ve access to (municipal) services,” said Mthombeni.

Andrews said the land on which the residents are staying is unsuitable for habitation given it is situated within a floodplain. 

“Occupying the floodplain also poses a risk of flooding of adjacent and downstream properties,” said Andrews, adding that thee site has no services such as water, sanitation, and electricity.  

“The City undertook numerous interventions to protect its land, the previous court proceedings being one of them. There is ongoing surveillance of the area and continued law enforcement operations,” he said.

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