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Litigation: Court rules for sangoma in eviction matter

The owners of a Johannesburg business premises who kicked out a sangoma, along with some of the ‘tools of her trade’, from the office she was renting has been ordered by the court to immediately allow her back into her office. Her tools of the trade included live animals such as a rabbit and a tortoise. The Star reports Hazel Gumbi turned to the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) after the owners of Ralstan Investments Ltd locked her out of the office she was renting at a business premises in Malvern. It is claimed that she was in arrears with her rent. Ruling in Gumbi’s favour, Judge Leicester Adams said the company could not take the law into its own hands and decide to evict her. The judge made it clear that eviction could only follow after a court order. Adams commented in his judgment that Gumbi’s ‘tools of her trade’, which were kept at the premises, formed an integral part of her practice as a sangoma and related spiritualism and traditions. The judge said it was a fact that the landlord had not yet obtained a lawful eviction order and by locking her out of the premises, he was in fact evicting her himself. Without deciding on the eviction issue, the judge agreed that by taking the law into their own hands, the landlord’s actions amounted to lawlessness. Adams said the nature of proceedings such as this was to prevent the public from taking the law into their own hands and resort to self-help tactics. ‘The right of access to court is the bulwark against vigilantism and the chaos and anarchy it causes.’ He said Gumbi must urgently return until a court had finally decided on her eviction.

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