13 March 2014

South Africa: Landmark Judgment - What Constitutes a Home?


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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