How to enforce your rights

If discussions between government and the community break down, local government must stick to the legal process. It must go to court and get a court order before it can force you to leave your home. You are entitled to written notice of the court hearing and the reasons for the eviction, and a chance to be heard in court. If you ask, the judge should give you time to find a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, tell the court, which can appoint a lawyer to represent you. If an eviction will leave you homeless, a judge may find that local government has an obligation to make sure you have another place to live, at least on a temporary basis. This applies whether you live on private or public land or property, whether you pay rent or not, or whether you live in an informal settlement or an inner city building.

If your home is destroyed without a court order, or you are locked out of your home, or your electricity or water is disconnected in order to force you to leave the place where you are living, and this was done without a court order, then it is an illegal or constructive eviction.

Here are some things you can do. You can call the police or someone from the list of the legal resources provided see link. But, if the situation is urgent, go to a High Court or Magistrate’s Court and ask to speak to a judge yourself. If you cannot find or afford another home, tell the court that you are going to be homeless. You can ask the judge to give you an urgent interdict to stop whoever is evicting you illegally. The court has the power to stop the eviction and may want to find out what plans local government has to assist you to find alternative accommodation.

Mobilise on the ground. Ask your friends, neighbours and community members to come to court with you. Contact the local media and send a sms to national radio stations and newspapers with your story.