Attention Media Houses: For Immediate Release
02 July 2020
IJR Media Statement: Dehumanising Evictions in Khayelitsha
The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) condemns the dehumanising evictions that have occurred in Khayelitsha over the last two days.
In an especially callous incident, the anti-land invasion unit from the City of Cape Town forcefully removed an individual from his home while he was naked. Videos of the incident were uploaded to social media and shared thousands of times. The right to human dignity, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, was forcefully violated by the state. That these evictions should have taken place in the middle of winter and during a global pandemic is even more disturbing.
Under the national lockdown, governed by the disaster management regulations, there has been a moratorium on evictions. However, evictions have taken place illegally in cities across the country. During this period of crisis, local government should be providing greater support to citizens living in informal settlements, not meting out violent punishment.
These brutal and inhumane acts come in the wake of public frustration at excessive policing during the lockdown, which has led to several killings, and police officers in Khayelitsha turning away a survivor of rape when she reported the crime. Internationally, there has recently been greater public scrutiny of the relationship between law enforcement and the policing of Black people, particularly among the poor. Police violence and a lack of access to secure housing are indicative of the many injustices that continue in South Africa, 26 years into democracy.
Findings from the South African Reconciliation Barometer, a bi-annual survey by the IJR, indicate that South Africans believe inequality to be the greatest source of division in society. Inequality in South Africa, and in particular in Cape Town, is most visible in access to housing. In the 2018 Afrobarometer survey, unequal access to housing counted among the biggest frustrations of South Africans. In light of this, it becomes the duty of local governments to prioritise empathetic approaches to the provision of housing to residents with insecure tenure, instead of punishing a condition over which these residents have little control.
The IJR calls on the City of Cape Town – and other metropolitan city councils – to cease evictions, reprimand officials guilty of violent misconduct, apologise to evicted residents, and amid existing budgetary constraints to prioritise basic needs, such as housing opportunities to residents across the city, particularly those living in informal settlements. Access to decent housing, trust in the security forces, and a responsive state are critical factors to building a fair, democratic, and inclusive society.
For media enquiries, contact Sam Kambule: firstname.lastname@example.org