Chung Hua Mansions

What is affected
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 09 August 2010
Region AFA [ Africa anglophone ]
Country South Africa
Location Jeppe Street downtown Johannesburg

Affected persons

Total 253
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Details chunghua_judgment_3dec10.pdf


Forced eviction

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Brief narrative

BUILDING owners need to operate by the letter of the law if they evict people from their buildings, or they will face heavy fines.

On Friday, the full bench of the South Gauteng High Court reversed the illegal eviction of more than 253 people from Chung Hua Mansions, a building in Jeppe Street in downtown Johannesburg. The judgment said the occupants of the building were in peaceful and undisturbed possession of the property when they were evicted without a court order on August 9.

The court also found that the property’s owners, the security company that carried out the eviction and the station commander of Johannesburg Central Police Station were in contempt of court for evicting the occupants without a court order.

They were sentenced to pay a R100000 fine, suspended for 20 years on condition they do not evict occupiers from their homes without a court order during that period.

The owners had claimed that the occupants had suddenly and voluntarily vacated their homes without being asked to do so. But the judges said the claim was quite fanciful, palpably implausible and far-fetched. Instead, the judges said they had found the occupants to have been evicted from the building forcibly. Many of the occupants were injured when this happened and some had become homeless. But the occupants were not always heading for a judgment in their favour.

On August 26 Judge George Maluleke dismissed the occupants’ application to reverse the eviction. The families then appealed against Judge Maluleke’s judgment and the matter was heard last Wednesday. Teboho Mosikili, an attorney at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA, representing the occupants, said the judgment vindicated their rights and affirmed that owners, private security companies and the police could not take the law into their own hands when it came to evicting poor people. It is the police’s active involvement in this unlawful eviction which is most deplorable. The police are supposed to protect and advance the rule of law, not assist in flouting it, Mr Mosikili said. He said unlawful evictions were an unfortunately common occurrence in Johannesburg’s inner city, which was undergoing a process of gentrification with no affordable, decent accommodation available to poor people currently living there.

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