One of the many difficulties that we are faced with during this country-wide lockdown is the question of eviction proceedings or the lack thereof.
In terms of the amended regulations of the Disaster Management Act 2002 that was published in the Government Gazette on the 29th of April it states that, “A competent court may grant an order for the eviction of any person from land or home in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 82 of 1997 and the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998: Provided that any order of eviction shall be stayed and suspended until the last day Alert Level 4, unless a court decides that it is not just and equitable to stay and suspend the order until the last day of the Alert Level 4 period.” Therefore, eviction orders may, in fact, be granted but may not be executed and unlawful occupants may remain on the land or home until the Alert Level 4 period is declared to be over.
This is subject to a Judicial Officer’s (a Judge or a Magistrate) discretion that it is not just and equitable to allow the unlawful occupant to remain until the Alert Level 4 period has come to an end. It is difficult to imagine circumstances that would not be “just and equitable” as the amended regulations states. A Judicial Officer would need to be faced with truly exceptional circumstances to enforce the eviction order during the Alert Level 4 period.
We advise all owners of unoccupied property to appropriately secure these premises as many have taken advantage of this lockdown in order to illegally occupy property and in some cases have erected structures. Furthermore, unless a judicial officer deems it to be just and equitable evictions may be granted but the orders will be suspended until the end of the Alert Level 4 period.
Harris Hardcastle – Candidate Attorney
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