The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has argued that the establishment and operation of the City of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU) is unconstitutional, because it is mandated to demolish structures and remove land occupiers without a court order.
The case on the legality of evicting land occupiers was reheard in the Western Cape High Court last week after the matter could not be resolved by two judges in December last year.
Advocate Norman Arendse, who represented the SAHRC argued that the ALIU “is not bound by the same rules and standards as SAPS or metro police” and that it is “merely a sub-department within the City”, however it employs policing powers and uses force to remove land occupiers and demolish their homes.
The SAHRC also argued that counter-spoliation is unconstitutional “because it allows the City to circumvent the provisions of the …Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land PIE [Act]” which prohibits unlawful evictions and provides for procedures to be followed to evict unlawful occupiers.
Counter-spoliation is when a dispossessed owner immediately and forcibly takes back possession of their property.
The EFF, also an applicant in the case, said “the City should not be left to be judge and executioner” when it comes to the removal of structures.
Arguing for the EFF, Advocate Tshidiso Ramogale, said that in a dispute about property “it shouldn’t be the land owner who makes the decision” but rather the court.
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