SAPS must appeal SAHRC interim order on land invasions – Andrew Whitfield

DA MP says ramifications of the interdict are far-reaching for police

SAPS must appeal SAHRC interim order on illegal land invasions

4 September 2020

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the Minister of Police Bheki Cele requesting that SAPS urgently appeal the interim order handed down by the Western Cape High Court in response to the application brought by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

In the Western Cape Division of the High Court judgment last week, the City of Cape Town and its Anti-Land Invasion Unit were interdicted from performing any evictions without a court order. This judgment will further place an additional burden on an already under-resourced SAPS to prevent the illegal occupation of land and to deal with protest action which often arises as a consequence.

It is clear the ramifications of the interdict are far-reaching for SAPS. With the City’s law-enforcement capacity already stretched, SAPS will have to deploy more resources than it can afford to provide. SAPS must take this call seriously and stand firm against land invasions. The implications are beyond also the City of Cape Town. Should the interdict come into effect, it will create a precedent that could have consequences on a national level. It is not only a threat to property rights enshrined in the Constitution, but SAPS’s available resources for Public Order Policing is simply insufficient to deal with a crisis such as this.

Today, in the Portfolio Committee on Police, Cape Town mayor Dan Plato, reiterated the devastating consequences of the interdict brought to the court by the SAHRC. The City will be unable to protect property rights and roll out public housing projects, healthcare facilities, basic services, etc. The interim order will thus inevitably lead to an acceleration of illegal land invasions across the country which will disenfranchise the thousands of legitimate housing beneficiaries due to the invasion of land earmarked for housing projects.

The DA will also be calling on the Minister to bolster the Public Order Policing units in the Western Cape. There are only three public order policing units in the Western Cape and the total number of public order policing officers has declined by 135 officers since 2018. This points to a chronic shortage of critical policing skills which is not commensurate with the increase in the incidents of public disorder in the province.

We urge SAPS to take the matter seriously and commit to filing an appeal. It is their responsibility to ensure law and order and land invasions will severely hamper their ability to ensure the safety of all citizens and protect their property rights.

Issued by Andrew Whitfield, DA Shadow Minister of Police, 4 September 2020