Ernest Mabuza, City’s duty to house squatters reaffirmed, Business Day (Dec. 12, 2011),

The Constitutional Court yesterday ruled in favour of the occupiers of private land near Pretoria who would have been rendered homeless had their evictions been carried out without the City of Tshwane being ordered to provide alternative accommodation.

The cases involved two appeals against eviction judgments by the North Gauteng High Court.

In the first judgment, the court ordered the City of Tshwane to provide alternative accommodation to 50 families who had unlawfully occupied a portion of the farm Skuurweplaas owned by PPC Aggregate Quarries.

In the second judgment, the high court ordered the eviction of about 170 families who unlawfully occupied a portion of the farm Mooiplaats owned by Golden Thread . In the second judgment, the high court did not order the city to provide alternative accommodation for the families.

The judgments clarify that the municipality is responsible for providing alternative accommodation to people evicted from land owned by private land owners.

Lawyers for Human Rights, which represented the occupiers, said the court had made clear and unambiguous findings regarding evictions, emergency and alternative accommodation and the prevention of homelessness.

"The recent series of judgments by the Constitutional Court concerning evictions and the constitutional obligations and responsibilities of municipalities . will go a long way towards holding these organs of state to account and clarifying how they are required to respond to the needs of their residents," said the body's national director, Jacob van Garderen.

In the Skuurweplaas matter, Justice Yacoob ordered the city to provide the occupiers access to alternative accommodation by April 30 next year.

In the Mooiplaats judgment, Justice Zak Yacoob remitted the matter to the high court and ordered the city to report on steps it would take to provide alternative accommodation if the eviction order were to be carried out.