The impact of Section 26 of the Constitution on the eviction of squatters in South African law

Muller, Gustav (2011-12)

Thesis (LLD )--Stellenbosch University, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation considers the housing rights of unlawful occupiers in the post-1994 constitutional dispensation. Section 26 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 affords everyone a right of access to adequate housing. This provision is a decisive break with the apartheid past, where forced eviction banished black people to the periphery of society. The central hypothesis of this dissertation is that the Constitution envisages the creation of a society that is committed to large-scale transformation. This dissertation posits that it is impossible to realise the full transformative potential of section 26 of the Constitution in the absence of an independent and substantive understanding of what it means to have access to adequate housing. This dissertation traverses legal theory as well as the common law of evictions, constitutional law and international law. A consciously interdisciplinary approach is adopted in seeking to develop the content of section 26 of the Constitution, drawing on literature from social and political science. This dissertation develops an organising framework for giving substantive content to section 26(1) of the Constitution with reference to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; the Revised European Social Charter, the American Convention on Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. This dissertation shows that the adjudication of eviction disputes has moved away from a position under the common law where Courts had no discretion to refuse eviction orders based on the personal circumstances of the squatters. The adjudication of the eviction of unlawful occupiers now requires a context-sensitive analysis that seeks to find concrete and case-specific solutions. These solutions are achieved by considering what would be just and equitable for both the land owner and the unlawful occupiers. This dissertation also shows that the government has a markedly different role to fulfil in post-apartheid evictions through the necessary joinder of local authorities to eviction proceedings, meaningful engagement with unlawful occupiers and the provision of alternative accommodation in terms of its constitutional and statutory obligations.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif ondersoek die behuisingsregte van onregmatige okkupeerders in die post-1994 grondwetlike bedeling. Artikel 26 van die Grondwet van die Republiek van Suid-Afrika, 1996 gee elke persoon die reg op toegang tot geskikte behuising. Hierdie bepaling is ‘n duidelike breuk met die apartheid-verlede waar gedwonge uitsettings swart mense na die periferie van die samelewing verban het. Die sentrale hipotese van hierdie proefskrif is dat die Grondwet beoog om ‘n samelewing te skep wat verbind is tot grootskaalse transformasie. Hierdie proefskrif voer aan dat dit onmoontlik is om die volle transformerende potensiaal van artikel 26 van die Grondwet te verwesenlik in die afwesigheid van ‘n onafhanklike en substantiewe begrip van wat dit beteken om toegang tot geskikte behuising te hê. Hierdie proefskrif deurkruis regsteorie sowel as die gemenereg ten aansien van uitsettings, staatsreg and internasionale reg. ‘n Doelbewuste interdisiplinêre benadering word gevolg in die soeke na die ontwikkeling van die inhoud van artikel 26 van die Grondwet met verwysing na literatuur uit die sosiale- en politieke wetenskappe. Die proefskrif ontwikkel ‘n organiserende raamwerk waarmee substantiewe inhoud aan artikel 26(1) van die Grondwet verleen kan word met verwysing na die Internasionale Verdrag op Ekonomiese, Sosiale en Kulturele Regte; die Konvensie vir die Beskerming van Menseregte en Fundamentele Vryhede; die Hersiene Europese Sosiale Handves; die Amerikaanse Konvensie op Menseregte en die Afrika Handves op Mense en Persoonsregte. Hierdie proefskrif wys dat die beregting van uitsettingsdispute wegbeweeg het van ’n posisie onder die gemenereg waar howe geen diskresie gehad het om uitsettingsbevele te weier op grond van die persoonlike omstandighede van die plakkers nie. Die beregting van uitsettingsdispute vereis nou ‘n konteks-sensitiewe analise wat strewe daarna om konkrete oplossings te vind. Hierdie oplossings word bereik deur in ag te neem wat reg en billik sal wees vir beide die eienaar en die onregmatige okkupeerders. Die proefskrif wys ook dat die regering ‘n merkbaar nuwe rol vervul in post-apartheid uitsettings deur die noodsaaklike voeging van munisipaliteite tot uitsettings, sinvolle interaksie met onregmatige okkupeerders en die voorsiening van alternatiewe akkommodasie in terme van grondwetlike and statutêre pligte.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/18122
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