[PRESS RELEASE] The homeless have rights too #HumanRightsDay

Whilst South Africa marks Human Rights Day, and remembers the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre which resulted in the gunning down of 69 ordinary South Africans who protested against apartheid pass laws, Lawyers for Human Rights (‘LHR’) continues its struggle for human dignity and against impunity by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police (‘JMPD’) and the City of Johannesburg. On 22 March 2017, the Land & Housing Unit of LHR will approach the Johannesburg High Court on an urgent basis, on behalf of a community of 28 ordinary, destitute and homeless South Africans, who have been living under the R31 bridge on End Street, Johannesburg and who were the subject of Mayor Mashaba’s ‘clean-up’ operation on 1 February 2017. Under the guise of this ‘clean-up’ operation, the personal belongings and shelter materials of this community were confiscated, tossed into trucks and disposed of as ‘rubbish’ without any due process. Footage of the incident can be accessed on Facebook via the following link:



The Applicants will argue that the unlawful confiscation of this community’s shelter and belongings by the City of Johannesburg and the JMPD constituted not only an unlawful eviction, but also violated the following rights, amongst others, that the Applicants enjoy:


  • Their right not to be evicted and not to have their homes demolished without an order of court;
  • Their right not to be deprived of their property unlawfully;
  • Their right to dignity; and
  • Their right to adequate shelter.


LHR will ask the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court to order the City of Johannesburg and the JMPD to return all the property and shelter material of the Applicants or, alternatively, to provide them with similar material and possessions. Besides ensuring that the Applicants are put back in the position that they occupied prior to the unlawful eviction taking place, LHR aims to send a strong message against the hubris and arrogance exhibited by agents of the state, particularly the metropolitan police who, 57 years after the Sharpeville massacre, continue to violate the human dignity of ordinary South Africans.


For further information, please contact:

Louise du Plessis

Lawyers for Human Rights

Land and Housing Programme

012 320 2943 / 082 346 0744