An interim court order in an ongoing court battle between lobby group Reclaim the City (RTC) and the City of Cape Town, involving occupants of an old hospital in Woodstock, has received its final court ruling.
In 2018, the High Court granted the City of Cape Town an interim order prohibiting any new residents from moving in and occupying the Woodstock Hospital, now renamed Cissie Gool House by occupants.
The Western Cape High Court made the ruling final on Wednesday.
The final order effectively means that no new people may move onto the premises.
Importantly, the interdict does not give the City of Cape Town licence to evict current occupiers. This was largely welcomed by the group of occupiers who were outside the court, dressed in red T-shirts with the words “Reclaim the City” on them.
The group, consisting of about 20 supporters who had made the trip from Woodstock, cheered as Jonty Cogger, an attorney at the Ndifuna Ukwazi law centre and a representative of RTC, relayed the news to them.
“Everyone on the list who is accounted for is allowed to remain on the property,” Cogger said, before warning that he anticipated that the City of Cape Town might institute an eviction order.
Cogger also confirmed the number of people currently occupying Cissie Gool House to be more than 700.
Earlier this month, a listing process was undertaken by the City to determine how many people were living at Cissie Gool House. The list was also to determine who was living there.
In June 2017, the Constitutional Court ruled evictions could not take place if it would lead to homelessness.
The judgment said that evictions that lead to homelessness are unlawful, even if they are agreed to by all the residents who stand to be evicted.
Judges must make sure that people under threat of eviction are properly informed of their rights.
A proactive investigation must also take place around the circumstances of all residents to assess the impact of such a move, as is now being practised in the Woodstock case.
The list at the time of compilation earlier this month stood at around 490 occupants and was in the process of being finalised.