AbM: Shack dwellers step up court battle

17 02 2009

February 17, 2009 Edition 1
Tania Broughton in the Mercury

SHACK dwellers in KwaZulu-Natal have launched a two-pronged court battle in their attempt to get “slum eradication” legislation scrapped.
And they now want the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal to consider the legality of the KwaZulu-Natal Slums Act.

The shack dwellers, under the auspices of Abahlali baseMjondolo, were dealt a blow last month when KZN Judge President Vuka Tshabalala found the Act to be “fair” and even applauded the province for dealing with slums and slum conditions.

But the movement has now applied for direct access to the Constitutional Court and, as a back-up should this fail, has made an application for leave to appeal against Judge Tshabalala’s judgment to either the full bench of the Natal Provincial Division or the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The movement insists that the Act allows for large-scale forced evictions, with little or no consultation. It also claims that many of its provisions are in conflict with present housing and eviction laws.

But Judge Tshabalala found differently. He said the Act would make things “more orderly” and should be given a chance.

In its application for leave to appeal, the movement now says the judge was wrong and he ought to have found that the Act will give municipalities an open-ended discretion as to how to deal with informal settlements, and this will lead to a violation of fundamental rights.

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