The ruling, which the Socioeconomic Rights Institute (Seri) said has “national implications”, also sent a clear message to municipalities and property owners seeking similar interdicts.
Abahlali baseMjondolo, an organisation representing shack dwellers, approached the high court in May questioning the legality of the use of a blanket interdict granted by Judge Koen on March 28, 2013. It had interdicted anyone from occupying 1 068 properties owned by the state.
The eThekwini Municipality used the order obtained by the MEC, Ravi Pillay, to evict shack dwellers at Cato Crest (Marikana) and Lamont (Sisonke) informal settlements.
Hundreds of shack dwellers camped outside the high court ahead of the ruling, as they sang liberation songs. Abahlali baseMjondolo president Sbusiso Zikode said the ruling would benefit all shack dwellers in the country and those dispossessed of their land.
“This high court ruling is finally going to bring dignity to the people living in shacks. From now on, people living in shacks would be able to sleep better at night knowing that no one would kick them out of their homes,” he said.
“They looked down on people living in shacks for too long. We have been in and out of courts, even to the Constitutional Court. Today we have finally defeated the government legally.”
However, he said other issues such as the compensation of the victims and the families of those who died during the forced evictions at gun point were not yet finalised.