Modderklip Revisited: Can Courts Compel the State to Expropriate Property where the Eviction of Unlawful Occupiers is not Just and Equitable?

  • Jackie Dugard School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand
Keywords: Housing rights, non-feasible eviction, effective remedy, judicial expropriation

Abstract

This article examines whether, to give effect to the section 26 constitutional right to adequate housing, courts can (or should) compel the state to expropriate property in instances when it is not just and equitable to evict unlawful occupiers from privately-owned land (unfeasible eviction). This question was first raised in the Modderklip case, where both the Supreme Court of Appeal (Modder East Squatters v Modderklip Boerdery (Pty) Ltd; President of the Republic of South Africa v Modderklip Boerdery (Pty) Ltd 2004 3 All SA 169 (SCA)) and Constitutional Court (President of the Republic of South Africa v Modderklip Boerdery (Pty) Ltd 2005 5 SA 3 (CC)). dodged the question, opting instead to award constitutional damages to the property owner for the long-term occupation of its property by unlawful occupiers. It is clear from cases such as Ekurhuleni Municipality v Dada 2009 4 SA 463 (SCA), that, mindful of separation of powers concerns, courts have until very recently been unwilling to order the state to expropriate property in such circumstances. At the same time, it is increasingly evident that the state has failed to fulfil its constitutional obligations to provide alternative accommodation for poor communities. In this context, this article argues that there is a growing need for the judiciary to consider, as part of its role to craft effective remedies for constitutional rights violations, the issue of judicial expropriation. It does so, first, through an analysis of the relevant jurisprudence on evictions sought by private landowners and, second, through an in-depth engagement of the recent Western Cape High Court case, Fischer v Persons Listed on Annexure X to the Notice of Motion and those Persons whose Identity are Unknown to the Applicant and who are Unlawfully Occupying or Attempting to Occupy Erf 150 (Remaining Extent) Phillipi, Cape Division, Province of the Western Cape; Stock v Persons Unlawfully Occupying Erven 145, 152, 156, 418, 3107, Phillipi & Portion 0 Farm 597, Cape Rd; Copper Moon Trading 203 (Pty) Ltd v Persons whose Identities are to the Applicant Unknown and who are Unlawfully Occupying Remainder Erf 149, Phillipi, Cape Town 2018 2 SA 228 (WCC).

Author Biography

Jackie Dugard, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand

Associate Professor, School of Law, Wits

References

Literature

Bishop "Remedies"
Bishop M "Remedies" in Woolman S, Roux T and Bishop M (eds) Constitutional Law of South Africa 2nd ed (Juta Cape Town 2006) ch 9

Boggenpoel Property Remedies
Boggenpoel ZT Property Remedies (Juta Cape Town 2017)

Dugard 2014 CCR
Dugard J "Beyond Blue Moonlight: The Implications of Judicial Avoidance in relation to the Provision of Alternative Housing" 2014 CCR 265-279

Liebenberg 2016 PELJ
Liebenberg S "Remedial Principles and Meaningful Engagement in Education Rights Disputes" 2016 PELJ 1-43

Van der Walt Constitutional Property Law
Van der Walt AJ Constitutional Property Law 3rd ed (Juta Cape Town 2011)

Case law

South Africa

City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality v Blue Moonlight Properties 39 (Pty) Ltd 2011 4 SA 337 (SCA)

City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality v Blue Moonlight Properties 39 (Pty) Ltd 2012 2 SA 104 (CC)
Commissioner for Inland Revenue v A H King 1947 2 SA 196 (A)

Ekurhuleni Municipality v Dada 2009 4 SA 463 (SCA)

Fischer v Persons Unknown 2014 3 SA 291 (WCC)

Fischer v Persons Listed on Annexure X to the Notice of Motion and those Persons whose Identity are Unknown to the Applicant and who are Unlawfully Occupying or Attempting to Occupy Erf 150 (Remaining Extent) Phillipi, Cape Division, Province of the Western Cape; Stock v Persons Unlawfully Occupying Erven 145, 152, 156, 418, 3107, Phillipi & Portion 0 Farm 597, Cape Rd; Copper Moon Trading 203 (Pty) Ltd v Persons whose Identities are to the Applicant Unknown and who are Unlawfully Occupying Remainder Erf 149, Phillipi, Cape Town 2018 2 SA 228 (WCC)

Fischer v Ramahlele 2014 4 SA 614 (SCA)

Fose v Minister of Safety and Security 1997 3 SA 786 (CC)

Government of the Republic of South Africa v Grootboom 2001 1 SA 46 (CC)

Levy v Levy 1991 3 SA 614 (AD)

Makate v Vodacom (Pty) Ltd 2016 4 SA 121 (CC)

MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works of the Province of Kwazulu-Natal v eThekwini Municipality 2015 4 All SA 190 (KZD)

Modder East Squatters v Modderklip Boerdery (Pty) Ltd; President of the Republic of South Africa v Modderklip Boerdery (Pty) Ltd 2004 3 All SA 169 (SCA)

Modderklip Boerdery (Edms) Bpk v President van die Republiek van Suid Afrika 2003 6 BCLR 638 (T)

Modderklip Boerdery (Pty) Ltd v Modderklip East Squatters 2001 4 SA 385 (W)

National Director of Public Prosecutions v Zuma 2009 2 SA 277 (SCA)

Noble & Barbour v South African Railways and Harbours 1922 AD 527

Occupiers of Portion R25 of the Farm Mooiplaats 355 JR v Golden Threat Ltd 2012 2 SA 337 (CC)

Port Elizabeth Municipality v Various Occupiers 2005 1 SA 217 (CC)

President of the Republic of South Africa v Modderklip Boerdery (Pty) Ltd 2005 5 SA 3 (CC)

South African Railways and Harbours v Transvaal Consolidated Land and Exploration Co Ltd 1961 2 SA 467 (A)

South African Railways v New Silverton Estate Ltd 1946 AD 830

The Occupiers, Shulana Court, 11 Hendon Road, Yeoville, Johannesburg v Steele 2010 4 All SA 54 (SCA)

Zulu v eThekwini Municipality 2014 4 SA 590 (CC)

United Kingdom

R v Tithe Commissioners 14 CB 474

Legislation

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Expropriation Act 63 of 1975

Housing Act 107 of 1997

Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998
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Published
2018-08-28
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