The recent Cape Town high court judgment barring the City of Cape Town from evicting illegal land occupiers from their shacks — occupied or not — without first obtaining a court order risks encouraging land invasions and deepening instability. This is entirely at odds with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s repeated assurances that “land grabs” will not be tolerated.

The court argued that the city would not be prejudiced because it could always apply for eviction orders on an urgent basis. However, this remedy is meaningless given the time needed to obtain such court orders. By then, unlawful occupiers will have become entrenched...

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