Tshwane - Evicted residents of the Schubart Park flats in Pretoria must wait for Constitutional Court-mandated consultations to be completed before returning home, the city's mayor said on Wednesday.
All the directives of the court Ä such as meaningful consultation Ä had to take place first, Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said in a statement.
The residents and municipality have to report back to the Constitutional Court by November 30. The municipality has until January 31 to provide the Constitutional Court with a plan on the restoration of the Schubart Park complex.
The municipality said it was looking forward to working with the residents of Schubart Park, after a year spent fighting them in court.
The city had set aside six weeks to engage in “meaningful consultation” with the residents to help them re-occupy their homes or find alternative accommodation as mandated by the Constitutional Court judgment, which was handed down this week.
The municipality welcomed the ruling, and said it was in line with Tshwane's plans to deal with the residents.
“It is good news for us to see that the Constitutional Court came to the same conclusion that we were aiming at, that of restoring the dignity of the residents and their occupational rights,” Ramokgopa said.
The municipality said it had already identified residents who had been evacuated and was ready to give them “secure and proper housing”.
On Tuesday, the court ordered the City of Tshwane and the residents to “engage meaningfully with one another and to report to the high court on their progress”.
“It is now more than a year after the residents were removed from their homes. Finding out who they were, where they are, and what they still need to re-occupy their homes will require co-operation between them and the city,” part of the judgment read.
“The residents are entitled to the occupation of their homes as soon as is reasonably possible.”
The metro municipality was ordered to pay the residents' costs in the high court (for earlier litigation processes) and in the Constitutional Court.
The court set aside earlier orders of the high court, made in September 2011, and of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Following the September evictions, the residents unsuccessfully approached the High Court in Pretoria seeking an urgent court order against the City of Tshwane. The order would have allowed them to re-occupy the complex.
The high court dismissed their application, but ordered the municipality to offer alternative accommodation.
The residents then sought leave to appeal against the decision and the judgment of the high court. The high court and Supreme Court of Appeal refused the applicants leave to appeal the judgment.
On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court upheld their appeal.
The municipality had argued that the complex was an unsafe living environment, an opinion based on expert advice. - Sapa