eThekwini Municipality demolishing homes despite interdict

The eThekwini Municipality is continuing to bulldoze shacks in the Cato Crest area of Durban for the third day since Sunday, despite a court interdict preventing them from demolishing homes without first getting permission from a judge.

Lawyers representing social movement Abahlali baseMjondolo members at Cato Crest, whose homes are among those that have been illegally destroyed by the city’s Land Invasion Unit, are at the Durban High Court seeking a contempt of court warrant for the arrest of the city officials responsible for today’s demolitions.

Fighting has broken out between the community members and police, who have arrested at least six Abahlali members for trying to stop city officials accompanied by municipal police and armed council security by burning tyres and erecting barricades.

On August 22, lawyers for the Cato Crest community, whose leader Nkululeko Gwala was assassinated after a visit to the area by the ANC eThekwini leadership to quell service-delivery protests, took the city to court over a series of evictions.

They secured an agreement that the city would not bulldoze any houses in the community, where tensions are rife between Abahlali and the ANC, without first going to court.

But on Sunday they began knocking down homes of the community members in whose names the court agreement had been sought. Several community members were injured by rubber bullets and shotgun pellets after council security allegedly opened fire on residents trying to save their belongings from the bulldozers.

Lawyers secured a full interdict against the city at the Durban High Court on Tuesday, halting the evictions, but this morning they began anew.

Abahlali Cato Crest chairperson Ndabo Mzimela told City Press the community was “under attack again”.

“They have come back to demolish our houses. They are ignoring the courts and the interdict we got against the city. They have no respect for the law,” he said.

“They have decided they want to finish us before the elections. These are political evictions.”

Municipality spokesperson Mandla Nsele was unable to comment on the demolitions, but promised information from the relevant department.

Kate Tissington of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (SERI), whose lawyers are representing the community, confirmed the new wave of evictions and said lawyers were seeking a contempt of court ruling against the city.


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