Housing organizations condemn draft regulation on illegal occupation of Cape Town

Khayelitsha Shacks evictions are demolished next to Empolweni in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Date taken April 22, 2020 Photo by Brenton GeachCreditBrenton Geach / GroundUpAlbumsEvictions

the Draft bylaw on illegal occupation of Cape Town closed to public comment July 31. Several social housing organizations, including Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU), have urged the public to reject the entry into force of the decree. NU has described the settlement as a shocking assault on poor families and working class.

What is the regulation?

The Illegal Occupation By-law will provide the city with guidance to manage and prevent the illegal (illegal) occupation of land and buildings in Cape Town. The bylaw aims to fill legislative gaps in order to reduce risks to the city, private landowners, commuters and other stakeholders. This while respecting national legislation. The following is covered in the regulations, among others, settlement management, and response and prevention of illegal occupation.

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Housing activists’ response to the settlement

NAKED issued a statement on July 31 in which civil society and former United Nations (UN) housing experts condemned the stopped.

Former UN experts on the right to adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, Raquel Rolick and Leilani Farha said those occupying the land are doing so because the city does not provide adequate housing in Cape Town. Homeless people sleep on the streets or build their own housing. Imposing criminal charges on people in these circumstances is discriminatory; their right to housing is denied and their recourse is severely punished, experts said.

NU condemned the proposed regulation, citing that it would criminalize homelessness. Mpho Raboeane, a lawyer for NU, wrote that the proposed settlement operates in a system of historic dispossession, inequality and landlessness.

Raboeane further wrote that the city’s approach to the settlement is from a singular property rights perspective. “The regulation operates against a background of discriminatory heritage and will reintroduce apartheid-era legislation. The draft regulations also give a broad set of powers to loosely defined officials, to remove and demolish informal housing without a court order, ”Raboeane said.

Raboeane cited Article 26 (3) of the South African constitution.

No one may be evicted from their home or have their home demolished without a court order issued after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation can allow arbitrary evictions.

Cape Town’s responses to illegal occupations

Malusi Booi, town hall committee (Mayco) member of human settlements said there has been an increase in illegal occupations since the start of the Covid-19 shutdown in March 2020.

Evictions and demolitions of land and homes were not allowed below Lockdown Alert Level 5 in 2020, unless a court order has been made. Cape Town carried out evictions and demolitions of shacks during the national lockdown.


Residents of Pola Park, an informal neighborhood, protested against the city of Cape Town from July 9. leading to violent clashes between the two groups.

The head of the community, Sonwabile Ntondini, said, the city comes to the community at any time to beat and humiliate them. “We were told that they were not allowed to come and demolish our houses like that, and yet here they are. We didn’t move here because we wanted to, we had no choice after losing our jobs due to Covid-19, ”Ntondini said.

A group of Vrygrond residents protested on July 14 after a chicken coop was demolished by the Cape Town land invasion unit. Resident and local farmer Michael Khumalo said the cooperative was being used for a six-week program to train young people in raising chickens. Khumalo said the city’s actions were “irresponsible” in the current economic climate.

JP Smith, a Mayco safety and security member, said the protest was a response to the removal of structures erected in violation of a court order. Luthando Tyhalibongo, from Cape Town, said the city acted according to court orders to prevent further illegal occupation of the land.

Tyhalibongo said the site is on city-owned land and is not eligible for housing as it is part of the False Bay Nature Reserve. “The city has had continuous consultations with the group for several years on the ongoing attempts to illegally occupy this land,” Tyalibongo said.

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NU and Reclaim the city will host a public meeting on August 11 to address the little progress the City of Cape Town has made in developing affordable housing.

The city of Cape Town could not be reached today to comment on the housing activists’ statement.

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Photo by Brenton GeachCreditBrenton Geach / GroundUpAlbumsEvictions

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