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2008-02-19: City's response to the Constitutional Court judgment in the inner city case

City's response to the Constitutional Court judgment in the inner city case. The City of Johannesburg welcomes the decision of the Constitutional Court which endorses the approach currently being followed in dealing with unsafe buildings in the Inner City.

The Constitutional Court's judgement vindicates the City's position that it was within its administrative rights to eliminate unsafe and unhealthy buildings and to remove people from such structures for their own safety.

The Court's ruling is that it is essential for the City to engage meaningfully with people before evicting them from unsafe buildings if they would be homeless after the eviction. This is in line with the approach that the City is already following.

The Court commended the City for the fact that its approach on such actions have evolved over time. The judgement is, in essence, beneficial to the City's urban regeneration programmes, in that:

The Court did not order any structural interdict.
The Court did not find that the City failed its Constitutional obligations;
The Court did not find the legislation that the city relied on to be unconstitutional, except the criminalization aspect;
The Court did not make a finding that the City's housing plans and programmes for the Inner City are inadequate;

In its affidavit to the Court the City referred to the extensive consultation and public participation process it is undertaking to provide residents and other stakeholders the opportunity to interrogate and comment on the City's housing plans.

It also reported extensively on the progress it is making in providing inclusive accommodation in the inner city that can meet the housing needs of all sectors of society, including the poor.

The Constitutional Court judgement comes at the end of a lengthy process that served before the Johannesburg Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Appeals. The City of Johannesburg welcomes the fact that legal certainty has now been achieved that will enable the city to implement its housing policies for the benefit of residents.