The City of Ekurhuleni appealed a December 2017 decision where the North Gauteng High Court ordered the municipality to build 133 houses for the residents of the Winnie Mandela Informal Settlement near Tembisa by 31 December 2018. The court found that the City had breached the residents' housing rights by failing to provide them with houses that were constructed with state-approved housing subsidies that were meant for them. The houses were instead occupied by other people, often as a result of corruption in the housing allocation process.
The City challenged the decision on the basis that the High Court should have ordered it to treat the residents just like thousands of other people who were waiting for housing at a new development that it says will be ready “subject to funding availability” in 2021. This position is based on the misconception that the essence of the breach of the residents’ rights was in the municipality’s “unreasonable delay in constructing houses for the residents”. However, the breach of their housing rights actually stems from the fact that houses were actually constructed, but were not given to the residents for whom they were intended.
The appeal was brought on a very narrow basis with the Supreme Court of appeal only having to decide whether the deadline set for the provision of the houses constituted appropriate relief. The matter was heard on 2 May 2018 in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court of Appeal did not enter into the merits of whether or not the date ordered by the High court was appropriate but extended the deadline to 30 June 2019 with the city paying the residents’ legal costs.