THE Constitutional Court yesterday declared unconstitutional a law making it compulsory for municipalities to evict unlawful occupiers of slums when landowners failed to do so within a time prescribed by the KwaZulu- Natal housing MEC.

Mbhekiseni Mavuso, secretary of the Rural Network - part of the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement, which took the case to court - said : "They were thinking, because of 2010, they were just going to go out and evict people . but now people are protected."

The province's Elimination and Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Act was a pilot for provinces around SA. If provincial governments want to expedite or compel evictions by municipalities or private owners, they will have to find a different mechanism.

Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said section 16 of the act was unconstitutional because it "violated" the "dignified scheme that has been developed for the eviction of unlawful occupiers". The scheme included the Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act, the Housing Act and the state's duty to progressively realise the right to access to adequate housing.

Moseneke said the section could not be interpreted in a way that would make it constitutional . He was addressing a dissenting judgment by Zak Yacoob, who found it was possible to interpret the section to accord with the constitution. With Sapa