Cape High Court rules Camps Bay occupiers cannot be evicted, Newsline

Cape Town – The Western Cape High Court has ordered that the seven activists occupying a mansion in Camps Bay have until midday of Thursday next week to vacate the premises – and as long as they comply, no costs will be ordered against them.

Despite urgent relief in the form of an eviction being sought by the property owners as well as the property managing company, Judge Mokgoatji Dolamo did not order the seven members of the We See You Collective to immediately get out of the luxury commercial property.

The group initially moved into the Camps Bay property two weeks ago, under the guise of an online booking for three nights which was fully paid for. Once the three nights were up, they emailed the property agent informing them of the occupation as an act of protest against spatial inequality and the lack of safe spaces for queer people in Cape Town.

Judge Dolamo took into consideration the fact that three of the seven occupiers have been left homeless during the Covid-19 lockdown, and have nowhere else to go once evicted from the current occupation. He paused court proceedings until he had confirmation from the City of Cape Town that emergency alternative housing would be provided for the three. As this housing will only be available from 8 October, that is their deadline to vacate the mansion.

“The respondents are ordered to vacate the property by not later than 12 noon on the 8 October 2020. There is no order as to cost,” Judge Dolamo ruled on Friday.

“In the event – and only in the event – that the respondents fail to vacate the property and to comply with the order, the sheriff of this court and his deputy are authorised and mandated to execute this order to evict the respondents from the property and to obtain the assistance of the SAPS if necessary. In which event, the respondents are ordered to pay the costs of this application, jointly and severally… including the cost occasioned by appointment of senior counsel, and the sheriff’s costs in executing this order.”

Judge Dolamo has also referred the concerns raised by the We See You Collective to the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission on Gender Equality.

The seven respondents, who were all present in court and represented themselves legally, celebrated the order as a “small win”.

They would not comment at this stage as to whether they will be complying with the order to vacate the mansion by next week Thursday.