On 2 September 2013, an urgent interdict was granted by the Durban High Court preventing Thekwini Municipality from demolishing the homes of residents of Cato Crest informal settlement without a court order. On 1 and 2 September 2013 the municipality illegally demolished shacks at the settlement, in violation of an undertaking made to the Durban High Court on 22 August 2013 that it would halt evictions pending the finalisation of the application for a final order. Assisted by Abahlali baseCato Crest, a newly formed branch of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the residents went to the Durban High Court on an urgent basis to stop the evictions.

The court order obtained interdicts and restrains the municipality from evicting the named Cato Crest residents or demolishing their structures without a court order. It further orders the municipality to construct “temporary habitable dwellings that afford shelter, privacy and amenities at least equivalent to those destroyed, and which are capable of being dismantled, at the site at which their previous informal housing structures were demolished” to the residents whose shacks were demolished on 1 and 2 September.

Despite this interdict, the municipality continued to demolish shacks. The residents were forced to return to court on 6 September to apply for a contempt of court order. The judge granted a rule nisi (interim order) compelling the Municipal Manager of eThekwini Municipality and the Head of the municipality's Land Invasion Unit to appear at court on 12 September to explain why they should not be imprisoned for 30 days for allowing illegal evictions at Cato Crest in contempt of the order obtained on 2 September.

The residents were represented in court by SERI's correspondent in Durban, Nichols Attorneys, and Adv David Saks.

  • SERI press release (9 September 2013) here.
  • Rule nisi for contempt of court order (6 September 2013) here.
  • Read the SERI press release (2 September 2013) here.
  • Court order (2 September 2013) here.
  • Interim order (22 August 2013) here.
  • Read more on Cato Crest evictions here.

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SERI’s conviction is that it is the people who are on the receiving end of poverty and inequality who are best placed to devise and implement strategies to challenge them. We provide legal advice and representation, research services and advocacy support to our clients and partners. We act to protect and expand the political spaces in which individuals and communities organise and press for social change.

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