The Constitutional Court today set aside the eviction of 184 residents of Kiribilly, a block of flats in Berea in Johannesburg’s inner city.
The judgment held that evictions that lead to homelessness are unlawful, even if they are agreed to by all of the residents who stand to be evicted. Further, judges must make sure that people under threat of eviction are properly informed of their rights to contest eviction proceedings and claim alternative accommodation. In addition, judges must proactively investigate the circumstances of all residents in order to properly assess the impact that an eviction will have on their lives and living circumstances.
The Court’s unanimous decision, written by Justice Mojapelo emphasised “the fundamental importance that a person’s home has to the realisation of almost all human rights”. Even where it seems a person has agreed to be evicted, a court is not permitted to order that eviction unless it is made aware of all the relevant circumstances, and is sure that no-one will be left homeless.