Date: Jul 2, 2020

South Africa: Government must end forced evictions immediately

In response to reports and footage of a man in eThembeni, Khayelitsha, being forcibly evicted yesterday during operations of the City of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, said:

“The incident once again highlights the brutality of forced evictions. Everyone has the right to housing, to dignity, and what was witnessed in eThembeni yesterday is inhumane. No human being should be treated in this way whatever the circumstances.

Amnesty International South Africa joins calls on the City of Cape Town to carry out an in-depth investigation immediately, to make the findings of this investigation public, and for the officers responsible to be held accountable. The government must also ensure that all those who are found to be victims of forced evictions and other human rights violations have access to effective remedy which includes compensation, reparation, and guarantees of non-repetition.

Amnesty International South Africa reminds the government that forced evictions constitute a gross violation of human rights including the right to adequate housing and must be prohibited in law and practice.

Furthermore, there have been several reports of forced evictions across the country that have continued through the lockdown. This, despite the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing’s call for halting all evictions, including from informal settlements and encampments, so that people are able to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19.

As articulated by the UN Special Rapporteur, ‘housing has become the frontline defense against the coronavirus. Home has rarely been more of a life or death situation’. South Africa’s own Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act outlines that no person may be evicted without a court order. Further, under Lockdown Level 3 courts can hear eviction matters and grant eviction orders but eviction orders cannot be carried out.

The government has asked, and legislated, for people to ‘stay home and stay safe’. While, this is based on the assumption that everyone has a home, which many people in South Africa do not, tearing down homes and making people homeless in the midst of the pandemic and winter, as the lockdown continues, is adding insult to injury. This must stop and it must stop now.”

BACKGROUND

Reports of Bulelani Qolani being forcibly evicted from his home in eThembeni, near Empolweni, in Khayelitsha, on Wednesday, 1 July 2020, were received by Amnesty International South Africa.

Reports of forced evictions have continued throughout South Africa’s lockdown, despite forced evictions being recognised as a gross violation of human rights, UN guidance on preventing evictions during the pandemic, and South Africa’s Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act stipulating that no person may be evicted without a court order. Further, no evictions are permitted under Lockdown Level 3.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REQUEST AN INTERVIEW, PLEASE CONTACT:

Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 (0)64 890 9224; mienke.steytler@amnesty.org.za