Victory for 60 000 Philippi residents – City loses appeal over occupied land

Cape Town – The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) has welcomed a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) order that the City buy land currently occupied by at least 60 000 people in Philippi.

“This is an enormous victory for our clients,” said Seri attorney Kelebogile Aplane.

“The court has once again affirmed the rights of the poor people against evictions. This order secures the right to housing to thousands of men, women and children in the settlement,” she said.

The matter dates to 2017 when the Western Cape High Court ordered the City to enter into good faith negotiations to purchase three different Philippi landowners’ land, which the people have occupied since 2013.

The City had appealed the high court order.

“The order further takes into consideration the rights of the owners who will now receive compensation for the loss of their land.

“The purchase of the land by the City of Cape Town Municipality was the only reasonable response to this situation. An eviction of the occupiers was neither realistic or practical,” Aplane said.

The three landowners were Iris Fischer, Manfred Stock and Coppermoon Trading.

Fischer is an 89-year-old woman and 2.7 hectares of the land was in her family for over 50 years. She lived on a portion of the land with her sons.

Stock owns five erven in Philippi and argued that attempts for him to develop the land for housing were unsuccessful as it was near a noise corridor. Coppermoon acquired erf 149 in 2007, which was rezoned for industrial development.

In 2017, Judge Chantal Fortuin found the land appeared to be largely unused for about seven years and, while they were planning the development, people settled in.

The City argued that it had placed residents on the emergency housing list and indicated that while it was not able to provide emergency housing immediately, it would be able to do so in due course.

The City said it was looking into the particulars of the enquiry and will revert in due course.