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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Media Statement: SAHRC Victorious on Behalf of Poor, Vulnerable Persons Against Evictions in Cape Town Under Lockdown

Attention: Editors and Reporters

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission or the SAHRC) expressed its shock at the footage of Mr. Bulelani Qolani, being dragged naked and forcibly evicted from his shack, in an informal settlement in Cape Town, by Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU). The Commission thus took action as it viewed this incident as a gross violation of Mr. Qolani’s rights to dignity, freedom and security of the person. It is a complete disregard for persons who are without adequate housing due to poverty, particularly during the State of National Disaster as declared in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The court action was aimed at asserting the rights of Mr. Qolani as well as rights of other persons in a similar position. The matter in SAHRC and Others v The City of Cape Town and Others was heard in the Western Cape Division of the High Court, in Cape Town on the 20th and 21st August 2020.

The Court delivered its judgement on Tuesday the 25th August 2020, and remarked that the incident against Mr. Qolani was “… reminiscent of apartheid era brutal forced removals,”.

The City of Cape Town, along with any other parties contracted “are interdicted and restrained from evicting persons from, and demolishing, any informal dwelling, hut, shack, tent or similar structure or any other form of temporary or permanent dwelling or shelter, whether occupied or unoccupied, throughout the City Metropole, while the state of disaster promulgated by the Third Respondent [Minister of Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs] in terms of section 23 (1)(b) of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002, as amended, remains in place, except in terms of an order of court duly obtained;”.

The Commission views this as a victory in protecting the rights of poor and vulnerable persons, especially those who have been negatively impacted by the lockdown in response to the National State of Emergency, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Regulations aimed at protecting all of us from contracting this potentially fatal virus, led to slowed economic activity, thereby leaving many unemployed and so deepening prevalent poverty and economic inequality.

The Commission has and continues to call on communities to refrain from unlawfully occupying land and erecting structures on such land. In the spirit of this judgement, the SAHRC also calls on all levels of government to act lawfully, in line with the spirit of the Constitution and to show empathy for the difficulties faced by the vulnerable.

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Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission
Gushwell Brooks – Communications Co-ordinator Tel: 082 645 8573 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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