On 1 April 2019, Lawyers for Human Rights launched an urgent application against the City of Ekurhuleni on behalf of more than 100 families (the “Monflorah Park Community”) whose homes were repeatedly and illegally demolished without a court order, and their personal possessions burnt to ashes by the Ekurhuleni  Metro Police Department during the period of December 2018 to April 2019.

 The community consists of some of the poorest and vulnerable members of society who took occupation of a piece of land in Tembisa East in August 2018 with the consent of the Ward Councillor and built their homes on the land.

The community lived peacefully there until 16 December 2018 – the Day of Reconciliation - when EMPD officials armed with rubber bullet guns and spades descended on their homes and reduced everything to rubble and ashes. The community lost their homes and all belongings, including children’s’ school uniforms, school shoes and learning materials, bedding and blankets. Such illegal demolitions have continued to occur at the hands of the EMPD through April 2019.. The community has also accused the EMPD of demanding bribes as ‘immunity’ against the demolitions.

LHR argues that the actions of the EMPD are not only unconstitutional and will seek monetary compensation for the destruction of the community’s personal belongings. It is hoped that this case will set a precedent to protect the rights of other communities that have been subjected to similar unlawful conduct by municipalities. Municipalities must explore more sustainable solutions to the housing crisis.

“In terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, it is trite law that no one can be evicted or have their home demolished in the absence of a court order. Further to this, the arbitrary deprivation or destruction of one’s personal possessions – no matter how modest in value – is simply in breach of the law”, said Ms. Thandeka Chauke, of LHR.

“The right to access to housing is a fundamental human right and the state has a duty to achieve its progressive realisation. Therefore, even if City of Ekurhuleni is to evict the community, the obligation to provide the families with alternative accommodation still rests squarely on the state.”

The matter has now been referred to an urgent ten-day trial in the Pretoria High Court, commencing today, 6 May 2019.


For more information, please contact:

Thandeka Chauke: 012 320 2943/ 060 378 2468

Louise Du Plessis, Land and Housing Programme Manager: 082 346 0744