The government has banned evictions for the duration of the COVID-19 lockdown
Just one week and one day ago, life in South Africa came to all but a standstill as we entered a nationwide lockdown due to the worldwide spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This, of course, excludes essential workers: healthcare professionals, emergency personnel, those in security services, those involved in the production and distribution of food and basic goods and maintenance workers, among others.
Those who can were told to work remotely, and those who cannot, had to stop working altogether. People are no longer allowed to leave their homes unless it’s a necessity — this too, is made up of a shortlist of places you’re allowed to go.
Although this presents more than a handful of challenges for South Africans everywhere, president Cyril Ramaphosa has told the country that it is essential to slow the spread of the virus that has hit parts of Europe and the US hard. To avoid the same thing happening here, a lockdown has been implemented from 27 March to 16 April, at least for now as there is no telling if this might change.
Some disturbing trends and practices have cropped up over the last week, such as grocery stores hiking up the prices of essential goods like toilet paper and cleaning products. Some employers have also refused to pay their staff who are quite literally unable to come into work, because they are banned from doing so. This has led to mass concern about a possible income that could befall some citizens during the 21-day period, including facing eviction.
However, South Africa is now among the countries to have implemented a moratorium on evictions.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola announced this during one of the now regular countrywide updates taking place on a weekly basis, by government: “All evictions and executions of attachment orders, both movable and immovable, including the removal of movable assets and sales in executions is suspended with immediate effect for the duration of the lockdown.”
The Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre said that those facing eviction are particularly vulnerable to the health risks posed by COVID-19, “when evictions would lead to homelessness.”
On our Eviction Guide website, we have made the full set of regulations available for download as a PDF. We encourage you to read through these if you are facing eviction and share this with anyone you know who might be going through the same thing.
- The sheriff will not execute any evictions during the lockdown
- The courts will not issue any new eviction applications during the lockdown
- The courts will postpone all eviction applications that are currently set down for hearing during the lockdown to a date after the lockdown
ATTENDANCE AT COURT:
- No member of the public will be allowed into court — only legal practitioners, the parties to the matter, presiding officer and court staff
- Legal practitioners can still go to court to file documents in existing matters but only if necessary
- The courts will only hear urgent applications, bail applications and appeals or matters relating to violations of liberty, domestic violence, maintenance and matters involving children