As migration to urban areas in South Africa increases, and local municipalities fail to keep up with the demand for housing, more and more people are forced to build shelters on vacant land – land that is often under the ownership of local government.
In the case of Jabulani Zulu and 390 occupiers who live on a property known as Madlala village, the LRC are defending the rights of these occupiers against violent and repeated demolitions of their homes by the eThekwini Municipality, in Durban, who evict people from the land unlawfully, without following statutory processes.
In August 2015, the Durban High Court issued a judgment in favour of the LRC’s clients, ordering that these demolitions and evictions were unconstitutional. This decision was upheld in October, when an appeal by the municipality to have the ruling overturned was rejected.
This legal decision establishes a firm precedent of respecting and upholding the advanced socio-economic rights enshrined in South Africa’s constitution. It will serve as a warning and deterrent for other municipalities conducting similar large-scale demolitions, and ensure that occupiers are protected from repeated destruction of their homes.