eviction - interdict - Abahlali BaseMjondolo - City of eThekwini - Durban High Court - Anti-Land Invasion Unit
This case arises from the Interdict application brought by the occupiers of eKhenana informal settlement in Cator Crest, Durban on 24 December 2018. There are 109 households in total and about 201 people including children and elderly people. Most of the households are women-headed households. SERI also represents Abahlali baseMjondolo who were joined in these proceedings having brought the initial interdict application against the City of eThekwini on behalf of the occupiers.
The eKhenana informal settlement was established in August 2018 on a piece of vacant land in Cator Crest. Following their occupation, the City attempted to demolish and unlawfully evict the occupiers on several occasions. On 27 December 2018, SERI challenged these on-going evictions against the occupiers. The matter was postponed to allow for both parties to file their supplementary affidavits. In the interim, the court interdicted the municipality and its land invasion unit from continuing with evicting or demolishing homes in the eKhenana Informal Settlement. The court also restricted the residents from erecting any new structures.
However, the municipality continued to illegally demolish homes in the settlement. On 13 February 2019, Abahlali, represented by SERI, approached the Durban High Court on an urgent basis to interdict eThekwini Municipality from demolishing homes in the settlement. The court granted the interdict and instructed officials of the Land Invasion Unit together with leaders from Abahlali to convene a joint inspection in the settlement in order to seek agreement on the demarcation of the site.
On 5 July 2019, the City filed its answering affidavit and argued that there was no point in pursuing the matter, as they have alternative accommodation for the occupiers in Cragieburn, Umkomaas. The proposed site is over 50 kilometres away from the current occupation. They further submitted that the matter should not proceed as they have drafted the eviction application which they will be serving on occupiers. On 29 July 2019, the occupiers filed their replying. On 11 July 2019, the City instituted eviction proceedings and ultimately delivered the notices to the occupiers on 27 August 2019.
On 30 August 2019, SERI filed the notice to defend and filed the answering affidavit in November 2019. The City requested an extension to file their replying affidavit in the matter.
On 22 April 2020, the City and its contracted security agency, Calvin Family Security Services demolished 14 homes in the settlement. These homes were demolished without a court order and while the interdict was still in effect. SERI filed an urgent application to the High Court for an interdict, contempt and compensation for the damage to the property. The matter was settled and an undertaking was signed on 24 April 2020 wherein the City undertook to “refrain from demolishing, burning and removing or disposing of the Applicant’s informal housing structures in the informal settlement or from causing this to take place”.