Media Statement: SAHRC finds against the municipality in QwaQwa evictions
23rd September 2014
Attention: Editors and Reporters
The South African Human Rights Commission has found that the rights of Qwaqwa residents in the Free State province were violated during the process to evict of hundreds of residents who occupied a farm in the Bokamoso area.
The Commission’s attention was drawn to the plans by the Municipality to evict residents on the 10th of June 2014. The residents were, according to the Municipality, “unlawfully occupying” the remainder of Farm Bluegumbosch 199, Ha Tshohanyane, Bokamoso in QwaQwa.
The Commission’s investigation sought to determine whether any one or more of the human rights listed in Bill of Rights, were violated during and after the eviction of Bokamoso residents. The eviction took place on the 11th June 2014.
The eviction followed the Constitutional Court decision to dismiss the application for leave to appeal made on behalf of Bokamoso residents. The application was dismissed on the basis that it bears no prospects of success. The eviction was initially ordered by the Free State High Court on the 17 August 2012.
The matter was brought to the Commission by Chief of the Mabolela Traditional Council, Morena Tsolo Mopeli who sought the Commission’s intervention in order to halt the eviction process pending a comprehensive assessment of the needs of the residents, their details and personal circumstances, the impact of eviction on vulnerable groups, the provision of adequate alternative accommodation by the Municipality, and meaningful engagement with the residents.
The Commission has found that:
- The Maluti A Phofung Local Municipality has violated the right to human dignity of the evicted people by providing them with inadequate and unsanitary sanitation facilities;
- The Municipality has violated the right of access to adequate housing of the evicted people by its failure to provide them with sufficient alternative accommodation that is habitable, accessible and located in close proximity to public amenities and job opportunities.
- The Municipality’s insufficient engagement with the community about a range of issues on consequences of eviction including alternative accommodation and relocation and the general lack of information about future resettlement plans upholds the complaint of a violation of the right of access to information.
- The Municipality is directed to provide the evicted persons with adequate alternative accommodation where they can live without the threat of another eviction and with access to basic services such as sanitation, water and refuse services within a period of three (3) months from the date of this finding.
- The Municipality is directed to furnish the Commission with a permanent relocation plan for the evicted people within a period of three (3) months from the date of this finding. This plan should make special arrangements for the elderly, orphan children, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable or marginalised groups.
- The Municipality is required to enhance community participation and demonstrate some level of transparency in its governance by convening regular feedback sessions every three (3) months relating to access to adequate housing. A copy of the minutes to be submitted to the Commission
- The Municipality is urged to apply to the Provincial Department of Human Settlements for provision of emergency housing funding to ameliorate the plight of the evicted persons who have been rendered homeless.
- The Free State Department of Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements is directed to carry out a full social impact assessment of evictions on vulnerable and marginalised groups in the Province within a period of twelve (12) months. A copy of the report, to be submitted to the Commission for review.
- The Free State Department of Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements is further directed to develop a human rights-based approach and plan to evictions to guide municipalities in the Province within a period of twelve (12) months. A copy of the plan should be submitted to the Commission for review.
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Issued by the SA Human Rights Commission
071 884 8273