Lawyers for Human Rights welcomes the judgement of the Pretoria High Court yesterday in respect 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 over the course of the last five months.

The community, composed of some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, have lived on a piece of land in Tembisa East – known to them as Monflorah Park – since August 2018. They built their homes there with the consent of the Ward Councillor and lived peacefully there until December 2018, when the EMPD, armed with rubber bullet guns and spades, descended on their homes and reduced everything to rubble and ashes.

LHR launched an urgent application against the City of Ekurhuleni and the EMPD on 1 April 2019, but after the City of Ekurhuleni and the EMPD filed a counter-application denying that the community resided at Monflorah Park and stating that the structures that had been demolished were vacant or incomplete, the matter was referred for an urgent ten-day trial.

Yesterday, Judge Millar AJ conducted an inspection in loco and visited Monflorah Park with the legal teams, and determined that the community indeed resided at Monflorah Park and that the structures that had been demolished had been occupied.

In its order, the Court therefore declared the actions of the EMPD to be unlawful and unconstitutional and has granted an interdict against the EMPD from evicting the Monflorah Park Community until a proper court order is obtained. The EMPD is further prohibited from “intimidating, threatening, harassing or assaulting” the community.

The Court also ordered the City of Ekurhuleni to pay emergency damages to each of the families, and to launch an investigation into the alleged bribery and corruption of the EMPD officials which must be referred to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate and the National Prosecuting Authority within 30 days.

“This marks another important victory for the dignity of the poor, whose right to access to housing – despite being fundamental – is often disregarded”, said Thandeka Chauke, of LHR. “The Court was clear that this type of ‘scorched earth’ policy by metro police forces, rather than development of sustainable solutions to homelessness as the Constitution requires, will not be countenanced.”

For further details on the case, please contact:

Thandeka Chauke: 012 320 2943/ 060 378 2468

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