By Saadiyah Kadwa in response to an original article at Mail & Guardian.
“Without dignity, human life is substantially diminished”
The forced removals of black people from their homes, a strategy used by the apartheid government to enforce their racially-based land legislation, stripped people of their dignity as they witnessed their homes and possessions being demolished.
The right to dignity and access to housing is entrenched in the Constitution, which gave rise to the enactment of laws that protect people who have insecure tenure in land.
The Prevention of Illegal Eviction from Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE) and the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) were enacted to protect the right to dignity, housing and property. Both Acts ensure that people cannot be evicted from land without a court order and any attempt at eviction without a court order is illegal.
In the Modjadjiskloof town, Limpopo, the Mokwalakwala community who live on a farm, which is their ancestral home, are facing the harsh effects of the owner attempting to forcibly evict them by the destruction of their homes. In November 2018, the owner bulldozed the homes and possessions of the families. Many among those affected are elderly men and women who were born on the property and report that their parents had also born and died on the property.
The Community currently live in makeshift shacks and canvas tents. Furthermore, even where some of their goods were salvageable, it is now being destroyed as a result of exposure to the elements. The community protested and demanded that the owner rebuild their homes. Although, the owner has offered temporary shelter and to rebuild the homes – the families refused the offer as they cannot accept some of the harsh conditions attached to the offer.
Saadiyah Kadwa completed her LLB and is currently working on her Masters Degree in Child Care and Protection at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Her interest is in protecting the rights of children, indigent, and vulnerable people. She volunteered at the UKZN Law Clinic and the Family Advocate’s Office in 2018.