Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

13 March 2014

South Africa: Landmark Judgment - What Constitutes a Home?

analysis

On Thursday, the Cape High Court ruled in favour of the Marikana occupiers and instructed the City of Cape Town to rebuild the homes they 'unconstitutionally and unlawfully' destroyed on 7 and 8 January.

The importance of this landmark ruling, if it is upheld, cannot be overstated. Its impact will reverberate in municipalities throughout the country. Anti-Land Invasion units beware: your operations have now been judged illegal. By JARED SACKS.

The City of Cape Town's official guidelines for the Anti-Land Invasion unit (ALI) defines a 'home' in negative terms:

A structure is not a 'home' until it has been inhabited by a person or persons who reside in the structure with their belongings and intend to continue doing so.

This is a simple, technical, if still somewhat vague, definition that it is essential to the day-to-day workings of this well-funded unit of Law Enforcement. Still, it is more descriptive than a generic dictionary definition. See for instance the Oxford Dictionaries' definition: the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

Its also well ahead of the South African Constitution and the Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) act of 1995 - both documents reference the ...

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