At Level 1 of lockdown, South Africa is halfway back to resuming normal service, even if we do have to take precautions. Venues such as nightclubs and sports stadiums remain closed to the general public, indicating that we are not yet out of the woods (well, with a third wave looming, so that’s a given) – but could we soon see a change in eviction laws?
Level 1 latest: DA proposals to ‘lift eviction bans’
The DA is now campaigning to have restrictions on eviction orders lifted. At Level 1 of lockdown, almost all sectors of the economy are up and running again. The party argues that there is no longer a reason to enforce the ‘moratorium’ on property ownership, suggesting that the current rules have created an ‘open season’ for land-grab opportunists:
“The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for the urgent lifting of Alert Level 1 lockdown regulations that make it close to impossible for property owners to obtain eviction orders. While restrictions on the movement of people have long ago been lifted, the corresponding rights of property owners have not been restored.”
“To protect their land and buildings against illegal occupation property owners have to overcome extraordinary legal hurdles, creating an open season for land grabs. Regulation 73(2) empowers a court to stay all eviction proceedings for the duration of the national state of disaster, which at present is an indefinite period. These regulations need limits.”
Cilliers Brink, DA Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
Property rights in lockdown: What the law says
Amended at the end of February, the State of Disaster laws currently say the following about evictions:
“A person may not be evicted from their land or home or have his or her place of residence demolished for the duration of the national State of Disaster, unless a competent court has granted an order authorising the eviction or demolition.”
“A court hearing an application to authorise an eviction or demolition may, where appropriate, request a report from the responsible member of the executive, regarding the availability of emergency accommodation or quarantine facilities.”
The State of Disaster itself is likely to be renewed before the Monday 15 March deadline. As per usual, the rules will be extended for a month. This takes us up to Thursday 15 April 2021 before any potential end is in sight for these regulations.