City of Cape Town Ordered to Rebuild Demolished Home in Hangberg

Picture: Supplied

On Wednesday, the Western Cape High Court ordered the City of Cape Town to rebuild the demolished house of Hangberg resident Ginola Phillips.

The City of Cape Town has 48 hours to rebuild the home of Ginola Phillips in Hangberg which its Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU) demolished twice last month, an action Judge Salie-Hlophe described as “deplorable, grotesque and without care for human dignity”.

In June, Phillips’ house was demolished in the middle of a cold winter storm. These actions by the city ignited numerous protests in the Hangberg community, near Hout Bay. 

Phillips had built his wendy house on a plot of land which the City owns, however on the same land there are several similar structures that had been there for years.

In August 2019, despite backlash from local residents, the City leased the entire plot to a crêche that was built on part of the Erf. The crêche was burnt down during the protests following Phillips’ eviction.

On 3 June this year, the ALIU served Phillips with a notice to tear down his structure. The unit returned on 11 June with the South African Police Service and the City’s Law Enforcement unit to destroy his home. Phillips rebuilt again by 13 June, but the ALIU returned on 19 June, to demolish the structure yet again.

On Wednesday, Judge Salie-Hlophe condemned the City’s actions and conduct as “unlawful and unconstitutional”. She said the demolition of Phillips’ house amounted to an eviction and was therefore in clear violation of lockdown regulations as well as the Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act (PIE Act).

Judge Salie-Hlophe said that the City “did not follow the procedure prescribed in the PIE Act. Put bluntly, they acted unlawfully.”

The City of Cape Town must within 48 hours rebuild a similar wooden structure for Phillips, of the same size and dimensions of the house demolished in June, she said. The City must then file paperwork confirming the completion of this structure with the Chief Registrar by 2 pm on Friday 17 July.

Phillips’ application was supported by 147 members of the Hangberg community. This “illustrates the ubuntu of the community and the solidarity to the plight of housing,” said Salie-Hlophe.

The City was also ordered to pay the costs of the application.