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Litigation: Court denies woman right to evict ex-lover

Rochelle Adams – who turned to the Western Cape High Court to evict her former boyfriend Sharief Manuel from an informal settlement dwelling – on a plot of land that neither of them owned – was left empty-handed after Judge Judy Cloete ruled, she had no right to lodge the action. A Cape Argus report says in June 2019, a friend granted Adams ‘permission’ to erect a home on an empty plot where they had stayed. Adams invited Manuel to live with her and her child on the property once it was fit for occupation. However, when the relationship ended in July 2020, Adams told Manuel he was no longer welcome on the property and believed that a protection order she was applying for against Manuel would force him out. However, the interim protection order she attained only directed Manuel not to enter the applicant’s residence at a different address; it did not order Manuel to vacate the dwelling. Cloete said although the two were under the impression that the plot might be on land owned by the Department of Public Works, there was no official record of ownership. The question the judge had to decide on was whether Adams qualified as a ‘person in charge of land’. The judge found that Adams did not believe she had ownership of the land but believed the dwelling was her property. Cloete found that Adams’ control over the property was tenuous because she had never lived on it and had agreed to Manuel moving there without telling him there were conditions. ‘I am therefore compelled to conclude that the applicant is not a person in charge of land for purposes of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act, and therefore lacks the necessary locus standi.’

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