Parliament, Saturday, 4 July 2020 – July is one of the coldest months of the year in Cape Town and the country is still under a state of national disaster due to Covid-19, yet the City of Cape Town continues to forge ahead with evictions. That was what the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ms Faith Muthambi, told the Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Mr Dan Plato and members of his mayoral committee yesterday.

“The meeting called today is in response to the appalling, inhumane and inconsiderate manner in which the City of Cape Town is executing evictions. This committee has a right to call before it whomever it deems relevant to the matters under its consideration,” said Ms Muthambi.

Mr Plato and members of his mayoral committee appeared before the committee to brief it on the City’s law enforcement actions during evictions. Members of the South African Human Rights Commission - Western Cape Office also attended the meeting and briefed the committee on the steps the commission has taken on the matter of the Khayelitsha evictions.

Ms Muthambi told Mr Plato and his delegation that the committee does not endorse or condone the illegal occupation of the land. “We understand the City’s constitutional obligation to enforce its by-laws. What we are condemning is the distasteful manner in which the City’s law enforcement officials go about in carrying out the evictions,” she emphasised.

She said the Constitution enjoins local government to strive within its financial and administrative capacity to ensure the provision of services to the communities. “At the root of the land invasions and erection of illegal structures, is municipal failure to provide land and housing. Resorting to brute force will not resolve this fundamental problem,” she added.

She told Mr Plato that the intention of the meeting was to encourage the leadership of the City of Cape Town to reflect both on the accountability of its law enforcement officials, as well as on the extent to which it is fulfilling its constitutional mandate to ensure provision of services that include houses to the communities.

Mr Dan Plato told the committee that the city was also shocked by the inhuman manner in which the eviction of Mr Bulelani Qholani took place. He said the city swiftly acted by suspending the four law enforcement officers who carried out the inhuman eviction and instituted an independent committee to investigate the matter.

He said the city is not evicting the old illegal structures, but they are evicting the newly built ones. He said the city has major infrastructural plans for the site where it conducted evictions. “Losing that site to land invasion will mean loss of development for Khayelitsha,” said Mr Plato.

The committee told Mr Plato to ensure that the person who instructed the officers to execute the brutal style of evictions must be exposed by the investigations. Furthermore, the committee expressed its lack of confidence on the investigations as they are conducted by people who were appointed by the city. Members of the committee said the investigation is likely to deliver predetermined findings.

Also, the committee told Mr Plato to ensure that when the city decides to evict people, it must provide the evictees with accommodation. Mr Plato was also asked by the committee about the availability of the human settlements plan for the people who live in the informal settlements and backyarders in the Cape Flats.

Ms Muthambi said the committee will continue to liaise with Mr Plato’s office for the purposes of convening a follow-up meeting where Mr Plato will brief the committee on, among other things, the city’s costed human settlements plan, the findings of the investigations that will expose the person who made the instruction for the brutal evictions. “There must be consequences for wrongdoing,” said Ms Muthambi.


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