Lenasia: SAHRC dissapointed by the Department of Housing, calls for demolitions to stop pending court process
20 November 2012
ATTTENTION: Editors and Reporters
The South African Human Rights Commission would like to express regret and disappointment in the manner in which the Department of Housing and Local Government in Gauteng conducts itself in the Lenasia matter.
The Commission is worried by the Department’s decision to quickly move to demolish more houses in other parts of Lenasia on Monday, thus raising further tensions and uncertainty in the residents. The demolitions on Monday happened amidst the court process that the Commission and the Department are engaged in.
The Commission is cognizant of the fact that the area where demolitions happened on Monday is not covered by the court interdict received against the Department, but we believe further demolitions will put the cloud over the pending court process around demolitions in the same area.
The actions of the Department also raise suspicions that this department of the government voted by the people of South Africa, is hell-bent on carrying out with little regard to the rights of the people.
It also suggests that the MEC, who has been vocal in the media defending what is clearly against the norms in a constitutional democracy, is ignoring suggestions of other solutions that include a possible mediation.
It is indeed unfortunate that in this time in the history of our country, we have a government Department that still wants to solve problems through bulldozers and destruction.
The Commission has, through the Chairperson Adv. Lawrence Mushwana, made efforts to meet and talk with MEC Ntombi Mekgwe.
But those efforts have so far hit the brick-wall. We will continue to knock on the department’s doors as we, as the Commission believes in a mediated approach which recognises the legal process on the one hand, and the human rights values enshrined in the Constitution which are reflective of our history and struggle as a country, on the other.
We want to emphasize that the Commission is not against the process by the department, but the inhumane way in which the process is been carried out.
We fully intend to pursue our action in court on Friday the 23rd November 2012, in light of the Department’s non-response to our request for an amicable resolution, and its actions on Monday.
We also support an urgent court application brought before court today by the residents of Lenasia to stop any further demolitions by the Department, and the reinstatement of an appeal, which was abandoned in 2010.
The Commission will continue to fight to protect the human rights, including right to housing, of vulnerable groups, especially women, children and people with disabilities.
We are also hoping sanity will prevail within the Department, and that they immediately stop further evictions and demolitions, that they allow the investigations and court processes to continue, and that consider the possibility to engage an independent mediator to help us reach an amicable solution in this matter.
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South African Human Rights Commission