Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Picture: BUSINESS DAY

The City of Johannesburg has failed to comply with two court orders ordering it to accommodate 257 men‚ women and children who were evicted from Fatti’s Mansions in downtown Johannesburg on Wednesday.

This is according to the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI). Despite the High Court ordering the city to accommodate the residents‚ they spent the night outside in the cold‚ SERI said.

The residents had initially asked the High Court, at an urgent hearing convened on Wednesday at 7pm‚ to return them to Fatti’s Mansions so they could challenge the eviction order granted against them. Justice van der Linde ordered the city to accommodate the residents overnight while he considered his judgment‚ which it failed to do.

"This morning, Justice van der Linde refused to restore the residents to Fatti’s Mansions‚ on the basis that the property is not safe for occupation. The judge nonetheless directed the city to provide the residents with emergency accommodation immediately‚ and more durable temporary accommodation within a week‚" SERI added. "But‚ as of 3pm [on Thursday]‚ the city had not complied with either of his orders‚ both of which required the city to act immediately to accommodate the residents."

The eviction order was granted against the residents after a minority of the owners of the sectional title scheme that controlled the building appointed an administrator‚ who then sought to wind the scheme up. Citing the poor state of the property‚ the administrator also asked for an order evicting all the occupants of the property. The High Court granted that order in April.

"Despite the fact that one of the residents then sought to appeal the judgment‚ the sheriff evicted all the residents on July 19 2017‚ before that appeal was heard and determined‚" SERI said, which charged that Wednesday’s eviction was clearly illegal‚ both because no alternative accommodation was provided to Fatti’s Mansions’ needy residents‚ and because the eviction was executed while an appeal was pending.

Nomzamo Zondo‚ SERI’s director of litigation said: "While we appreciate Justice van der Linde’s concerns about the state of the property‚ the fact is that the residents of Fatti’s Mansions were safer in the building than they currently are on the streets. The city of Johannesburg is dragging its feet in complying with its court-ordered, constitutional obligation to accommodate the residents‚ who remain‚ as of now‚ without any shelter at all. We call on the city of Johannesburg to do what is right and lawful: act now to house the residents."

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