The eviction without alternative arrangements of retrenched workers by their former employee from the only place that has served as their home will cause great pain, is unjust and must not be allowed.
This is the fight staged by a group of former employees of a brick manufacturing business called Claytile. These workers had been allowed to occupy units for the duration of their employment in a farm in Muldersvlei, outside Stellenbosch. After the termination of their employment and having received written notices to vacate the farm units, they continued in residence whilst being employed elsewhere.
At a later stage the company instituted eviction proceedings in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court. The responsible municipality indicated that it was not in a position to provide alternative accommodation due to a long waiting list and that emergency housing was unavailable. The Magistrate’s Court held that the respondent complied with the requirements for an order of eviction as set out in and found that the applicants’ employment had been terminated lawfully.
Therefore, their right of residence was terminated and an eviction order was granted.
The Labour Claims Court (LCC), on automatic review from the Magistrate’s Court, confirmed the eviction application on the grounds that the proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court had been in accordance with justice. The LCC held that the constitutional obligation to ensure access to adequate housing lies solely on the State and not on private citizens. And the application for special leave to appeal was dismissed.
The workers have taken their fight to the Constitutional Court. They seek leave to appeal against the judgment and order of the LCC.
They submit that the farm is the only home they have ever known and evicting them is unjust. They argue that there was no meaningful engagement and that they will suffer greater hardships than the respondent if they are evicted. They aver that homelessness is generally regarded as being inconsistent with the Constitution, but when this fate befalls children, it is even more so. The applicants furthermore challenge the application and availability of subsidies for the development of on-site and off-site housing in terms of section 4 of ESTA.
The respondent submits that the eviction is just and equitable.