Motswagae and Others v Rustenburg Local Municipality and Another

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author Vote
North West High Court, 15 Sep. 2011 27 Nov. 2012 7 Feb. 2012 Yacoob J. Unanimous

Ms Pontso Motswagae and the other applicants are residents of the Tlhabane Hostel, a female hostel situated on land owned by the North West Province under the jurisdiction of the Rustenburg Municipality.  The Rustenburg Municipality was obliged to redevelop hostels under its area of control, and as part of this process was undertaking certain construction work on land adjacent to the hostel.  The applicants brought an application for an interdict preventing the Municipality from carrying out this work and the Municipality brought a counter-application in order to prevent the applicants from interfering with the construction work.  The High Court dismissed the application on the basis that the applicants’ rights to privacy and the right to remain on the property would not be affected by the construction work, and if it was necessary for the applicants to leave the premises whilst work was carried out the Municipality had offered alternative accommodation.  The counter-application was also granted.

The Constitutional Court overturned the High Court decision and granted an interdict against the Rustenburg Municipality.  The Constitutional Court did so on the basis that the right to housing in Section 26(3) of the Constitution that bars anyone from being “evicted from their home, or hav[ing] their home demolished without an order of Court“, extends to the protection of an occupiers’ “peaceful and undisturbed occupation of their homes“.  

The Constitutional Court found that the construction work in this case was an interference with the applicants’ right to peaceful and undisturbed possession of the property, and therefore the Municipality would require a court order (or the consent of the occupiers) before carrying out the work. 

Download judgment here.

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