Court gives Bella Vista occupiers a month to submit affidavits

Witzenberg Municipality says the homes were only for people who had been waiting more than ten years

Photo of court building

The 27 occupants of the Bella Vista housing project in Ceres are to submit their affidavits by no later than 14 September and heads of argument by 20 September. Archive photo of the High Court: Ashraf Hendricks

By Barbara Maregele

16 August 2018

A group of 27 residents occupying houses in the Bella Vista 309 Housing Project in Ceres have just over a month to file documents opposing their eviction. Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai made the order on Thursday.

Resident Maria Lintnaar and the 26 other occupants are to submit their affidavits by no later than 14 September and heads of argument by 20 September.

Advocate Lawrie Wilkin, acting for the Witzenberg Municipality, requested that no further postponements be allowed. The matter was previously postponed to allow the residents to consult with a Legal Aid lawyer.

On 4 April, the municipality brought an urgent application to the High Court to evict the residents who had “unlawfully” moved into the houses on 23 February. The municipality said the homes had been earmarked for people who had been on the municipality’s housing waiting list prior to 2009.

The municipality also argued that funding for its housing programme could be negatively affected should the residents remain in the homes.

In its founding affidavit, filed on 12 March, the municipality stated that the houses were “wholly unfit” for habitation at the time they were occupied. Water and electricity had not yet been connected, it said.

Municipal manager David Nasson had previously told GroundUp that only seven of the 27 occupants were on the waiting list, of which one person would have qualified to benefit from the project because they applied before 2009. Another occupant applied prior to 2009 but was still younger than 40, and therefore did not meet the criteria. Five others applied between 2011 and 2016.

The matter was postponed to 25 September for argument. Until then, the residents remain in their homes.