GROUNDUP ADEQUATE PROVISION?
Drakenstein Municipality appeals court ruling on emergency housing
The municipality believes it has met its constitutional obligations to provide accommodation to people evicted from rural areas.
The Drakenstein Municipality believes it has “gone out of its way” to fulfil its constitutional obligations to provide emergency housing to those evicted from rural areas.
The municipality has filed leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (or alternatively with a full bench of the Western Cape high court) against a ruling by acting judge Bernard Martin on 28 July that found it had failed to make adequate provision for emergency housing.
In 2015, former farm worker Eric Lolo was served with an eviction order by Greenwillows Properties, which owns Langkloof Roses farm in Wellington, where he was staying with his daughter and her child. While Lolo has since found employment on another farm, his daughter and grandchild still live at Langkloof.
Lolo applied to the high court on behalf of himself and others facing eviction in rural areas, hoping to hold the municipality accountable for the lack of emergency housing for poor and unemployed people in farming areas. The ruling stated that the municipality failed to take reasonable measures to provide people living in the Drakenstein region with emergency housing. The court also stated that the municipality is legally obligated to make provision from its own funds, and not only rely on provincial funding for emergency housing.
On 19 August, the municipality, in its appeal, said that the court had failed to consider evidence of its financial position and the “strides it had made in housing generally, and emergency housing in particular”.
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The municipality said the court had disregarded evidence of its emergency housing efforts, noting several of its housing programmes, such as the Vlakkeland Housing Development and the Schoongezicht site in Paarl. It also mentioned several other emergency housing projects it funded.
The appeal stated that the ruling failed to mention that Lolo had been offered alternative accommodation but had rejected these offers. And that his reasons for not accepting the offer were unjustified.
The municipality also said that the “applicants failed to put up any alternatively adequate evidence of systemic failures on the part of the municipality, or inadequate compliance with its constitutional duties”.
Jacqueline Samson, Drakenstein’s Executive Director of Planning and Development told GroundUp that the “judgment, unfortunately, does not assist persons in Mr Lolo’s position, but [is] rather a theoretical exposition of many issues and challenges that are beyond the control of local government”.
A date for the hearing is yet to be confirmed. DM
First pblished by GroundUp.