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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Human Rights Commission slams evictions from Kraaifontein farm

22 August 2019

Cape Town – The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has challenged the eviction of 300 people from the Klein Akker farm in Kraaifontein, charging that a failure by the City to provide appropriate alternative accommodation to families, as well as the way in which the eviction was carried out by the property owner, amounted to a violation of various human rights.
The commission applied for a declaratory order in the Western Cape High Court yesterday, where judgment was reserved.

22 August 2019

Acting SAHRC provincial manager Bahia Sterris said the eviction had “amounted to a violation of various human rights”.
“Although the property owner had obtained an eviction order, no appropriate alternative accommodation for residents had been found, and evicted families are now stuck out in the cold on Botfontein Road without any temporary accommodation.
"The commission’s application asserts that the eviction, which has left several families stranded, has given rise to a series of rights violations, including the right to adequate housing, the right to water and sanitation, the rights of children, the right to a basic education, and finally, the right to human dignity,” said Sterris.

The SAHRC further supported an application made by the Legal Resources Centre for emergency accommodation and constitutional damages.
The more than 300 people, including pensioners, women and children, were evicted from the farm on Monday, and have been destitute since. Some had been living on the land for more than 20 years.
Klein Akker community spokesperson Anna-Marie Schoeman had said the residents were stripped of their dignity as they were made to sit along Botfontein Road, in the cold, while their goods were destroyed during the eviction process.
“The SAHRC emphasises that the eviction of persons must be carried out humanely, and in line with existing laws and constitutional principles.
"The SAHRC is hopeful that this litigation will not only provide these families with much-needed relief, but will serve as a reminder of the constitutional and legal obligations which must be complied with when carrying out an eviction in the future.
"We are particularly concerned about the children affected, given the impact on their right to a basic education and in view of the paramountcy of the best interests of the child in our Bill of Rights,” said Sterris.
Booth Attorneys, on behalf of the landowner Odvest 182 (Pty) Ltd, said the owners intended to develop the land into an industrial or semiindustrial property.
They disputed that the eviction had been unlawful, as residents were notified that they needed to move.
The firm said an application was launched in 2012 in the Western Cape High Court, and the matter was heard during 2015. The firm said that in 2016 an order was granted authorising the eviction by July 2017.
The City said the eviction was a private one in which the City’s law enforcement agencies did not take part.
The City said they had provided alternative accommodation to the residents, which was rejected by the residents.
Yesterday the City’s legal representative indicated the City would provide emergency housing kits to the ­evictees who could be housed in Philippi, 40km away, at an area called Kampies.
The City said the occupiers would only be able to move to this site within four to six weeks.
Klein Akker residents have rejected this option, citing issues such as distance from their children’s schools, transportation as well as their places of employment.
The City indicated they would provide the emergency kits to residents on the condition that they moved back to Klein Akker while they waited for the space at Kampies to become available.
The City also indicated they would provide emergency kits to residents who could prove they had land to put them on.
Judgment was reserved until parties formed a draft on an appropriate solution for emergency temporary accommodation.

Source: Cape Times

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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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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