WC High Court: “Drakenstein Municipality failed in its Constitutional Duty to provide Emergency Housing”

On the 28th July the Western Cape High Court handed down a judgement that painted a very bleak picture on the Drakenstein Municipality’s (DM) Housing Policy, especially its Emergency Housing process.

In the order from the judgement, the court found the following:

  1. DM breached its constitutional and statutory obligations by failing to take reasonable measures to provide emergency housing;
  2. DM is legally obliged to make provision from its own financial resources, excluding Provincial funds, for emergency housing;
  3. Section 5.2.2 of the DM Housing Policy which precludes registered farm residents from benefitting from the 20% quota set aside for farm workers in municipal housing projects, is unconstitutional and must be removed or reviewed.

Furthermore, Acting Judge concluded the order with the following (para 150):

The picture the court is left with, is one of the Municipality’s dismal, perhaps wilful, failure to meet its constitutional obligations to an extremely vulnerable group. Not only did it seek refuge from accountability by taking numerous technical defences, but sought to shield behind the notion of deference and hoped to benefit from the cloak of legitimacy with which the Constitution clothes state institutions. The court finds itself driven to the conclusion that the Municipality operated as if war with Its own citizens, a deplorable state of affairs indeed.

Mr Eric Lolo Eviction

The matter relates to former farm worker Eric Lolo, whi in 2015, was served with an eviction order by Greenwillows Properties, which owns Langkloof Roses farm in Wellington, where he was staying with his daughter and grandchild.

Mr Eric Lolo

Mr. Lolo applied to the High Court on behalf of himself and others living in rural areas, hoping to hold the municipality accountable for the provision of emergency housing.

Acting Judge Bernard Martin ruled that the Municipality had failed to make provision for emergency housing, and not in line with the provisions of the Constitution.

Acting Judge Martin found that the Municipality did not provide the “factual basis” for a claim that it didn’t have funds to meet its obligations. The judgment noted that, in 2016, the municipality had only budgeted R1 million for emergency housing from a total budget of over R2 billion.

Citing a 2016 housing report by the Municipality, the judge said the demand for housing during this time was about 19 500, and between 400 and 800 formal houses were created every year by the municipality with funds from the provincial government.

Judge Martin said the court should supervise the implementation of the order and the municipality must submit written reports on its progress.

Here is the full judgement

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