SERI represents residents of the Cato Crest informal settlement whose shacks were illegal demolished by eThekwini Municipality and the Land Invasion Unit. On 1 and 2 September 2013 the municipality illegally demolished shacks at the settlement, in violation of an undertaking made to the Durban High Court on 22 August 2013 that it would halt evictions pending the finalisation of the application for a final order.

On 2 September 2013 the residents, assisted by Abahlali baseCato Crest - a newly formed branch of Abahlali baseMjondolo - went to the Durban High Court on an urgent basis to stop the evictions. An urgent interdict was granted by the court interdicting and restraining the municipality from evicting the named Cato Crest residents or demolishing their structures without a court order. It further orders the municipality to construct “temporary habitable dwellings that afford shelter, privacy and amenities at least equivalent to those destroyed, and which are capable of being dismantled, at the site at which their previous informal housing structures were demolished” to the residents whose shacks were demolished on 1 and 2 September. The residents were represented in court by SERI`s correspondent in Durban, Nichols Attorneys, and Adv David Saks.

Despite this interdict, the municipality continued to demolish shacks. The residents were forced to return to court on 6 September for the third time to apply for a contempt of court order. The Durban High Court granted a rule nisi (an interim order to be confirmed at a later date) which compels the Municipal Manager of eThekwini Municipality and the Head of the Land Invasion Unit to appear at court on Thursday 12 September to explain why they should not be imprisoned for 30 days for allowing illegal evictions to continue at Cato Crest in contempt of court. Despite this, demolitions continued at the settlement.

On 12 September the respondents delivered their answering affidavit in respect of the contempt application. A supplementary affidavit was also filed by Abahlali baseMjondolo setting out the facts of the most recent demolitions at the settlement. The parties agreed to an order which directs the legal representatives of the parties to meet at the settlement on 17 September to identify and mark the residents` shacks. The municipality is interdicted and restrained from demolishing, removing or otherwise disposing of any of these informal structures pending the finalisation of the application. The illegal evictions at Cato Crest informal settlement continued over the weekend of 14 and 15 September, despite the interdict.

  • General Council of the Bar press statement (23 September 2013) here.
  • Court order (12 September 2013) here.
  • SERI press release on eThekwini contempt of court (9 September 2013) here.
  • Rule nisi for contempt of court order (6 September 2013) here.
  • SERI press release (2 September 2013) here.
  • Court order (2 September 2013) here.
  • Interim order (22 August 2013) here

Original source