On 30 August 2017, the Western Cape High Court dismissed an application to evict 60 000 people living in the “Marikana” informal settlement in Philippi near Cape Town. In its ground-breaking case, the court ordered the City of Cape Town (the City) to enter into good faith negotiations with the property owners about purchasing the land for the Marikana residents. If negotiations fail, the court ordered the City to expropriate the land or provide reasons why it is unable to do so.
SERI represented the majority of the residents of the Marikana informal settlement. The residents moved into the Marikana informal settlement because they had been evicted from backyard shacks or other rented accommodation or informal settlements elsewhere in Cape Town. In February, SERI argued to court that state purchase or expropriation of the Marikana land are the only reasonable options that could be pursued in order to avoid making the Marikana residents homeless again. SERI further submitted that section 9(3) of the Housing Act 107 of 1997 provides the appropriate legal framework within which to manage the purchase or expropriation of the Marikana land, and that the City’s failure to initiate the process required by section 9(3) is unreasonable and unconstitutional.