In a letter penned to the executive mayor of the city of Ekurhuleni, the Black First Land First (BLF) has questioned an eviction by the city’s officers, where Ekurhuleni Metro (EMPD) officer’s targetted Ward 102 in Duduza and allegedly set alight some of the properties.
According to the BLF, the EMPD without warning or a court order evicted over 100 people and destroyed around 34 shacks, last week in the bustling township of Duduza, in Tembisa.
In the letter seen by The Citizen, the movement alleges EMPD officers unleashed rubber bullets, destroyed shacks and set some goods on fire during the unlawful attacks on scores of people, left homeless following the eviction.
At the scene of the evictions, BLF arrived to find people in grief, with two children aged two and three, with no clothes except for the clothes on their backs.
“Yet again we see the state denying rights to the most vulnerable of our society.
“There is no dispute that the evictions carried out are unlawful. Let’s remind you, Mr Mayor, that when the national lockdown commenced, the Government Gazette on 26 March 2020, stated that ‘all evictions and the execution of attachment orders, both movable and immovable, including the removal of movable assets and sales in execution is suspended with immediate effect for the duration of the lockdown’.
“This regulation is in place under Level 3 of the lockdown. Therefore even if there was a court order to evict, such an order would be suspended by the regulation. In this case, it’s worse because no court order has in fact been obtained according to the victims of the evictions by your police.”
The movement, urging the city to return all confiscated material, asked for those whose belongings were burnt to be compensated. Action against officers who broke the law by executing an unlawful eviction must be taken, BLF demanded.
“I also wish to remind you that in terms of the Constitution no one may be evicted without a court order. Section 26(3) of the Constitution is clear that ‘no one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances,'” the movement said.
While the movement has called for answers including evidence of the court order, attempts to contact the city were fruitless at the time of publishing, despite numerous attempts to the city, for comment. It was in a Sowetan report, that MMC for community safety Phaladi Mmoko defended its decision to demolish shacks in the informal settlement, in Tembisa.
Mmoko justified the eviction by stating that the people had attempted a land invasion, as they had not lived in the area for a long time.
“If we were going to be found sleeping on our job we were going to be dealing with thousands. If a person occupies government land illegally, we are duty-bound to go and remove that person. Our interest is to safeguard the property of the municipality.”
While the police, Ekurhuleni metro, and BLF butt heads over the questionable eviction, the Human Rights Commission’s Gushwell Brooks in providing some insight on evictions, said the commission’s stance on the evictions issue was for evictions to be put on hold, as they would render people homeless, considering the current economical climate.
Proper legal notice, with measures to accommodate the tenants, with an alternative were necessary steps in ensuring human rights took precedent.
Although he said the commission urged the Gauteng government to put a hold on evictions, he noted that there remained issues of land invasions that most metro’s had to address, which in turn resulted in a “double-edged sword” scenario.